B&Q sales surge boosts Kingfisher profit
Kingfisher (KGF.L), Europe's No. 1 home improvement retailer, posted a 20 percent surge in first quarter retail profit and said it would pay a 100 million pound special dividend as part of its plans for extra shareholder rewards.
The group, which runs market leader B&Q in Britain and trades as Castorama and Brico Depot in France, said on Thursday retail profit for the 13 weeks to May 3 rose to 142 million pounds, just below a company compiled consensus forecast of 145 million pounds.
Boosted by much better weather than in the same period a year ago when Britain and Europe was hit by a deluge of rain and snow, group sales at stores open over a year rose 6.1 percent.
"We have made a strong start to the year, capitalising on more favourable weather conditions right across Europe to achieve sales and profit growth in France, the UK & Poland, our three largest markets," Chief Executive Ian Cheshire said.
Underlying sales in the UK and Ireland grew 10.1 percent as sunshine drove up sales of outdoor seasonal products like barbecues and garden furniture at B&Q. Sales at Screwfix also benefited from a strong promotional programme.
In France, where Kingfisher makes about half of group profit, like-for-like sales rose 1.6 percent, with the impact of better weather offsetting soft underlying markets due to weak consumer confidence.
The firm said exclusive talks to take over smaller French rival Mr Bricolage (MBRI.PA), announced in April, were ongoing.[ID:nL5N0MV17N]
As part of a plan to return 200 million pounds in 2014/15, Kingfisher said on Thursday it would pay a special dividend of 4.2 pence per share on July 25. The firm, which in March outlined plans for a multi-year programme of cash returns, has already returned 35 million pounds via a share buyback.
Shares in the company, which has 1,134 stores in nine countries, closed at 417.3 pence on Wednesday, up 26 percent on a year ago, valuing the business at 10 billion pounds.