B&Q owner hit by tough summer

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A tough summer for B&Q owner Kingfisher sent its shares into reverse today after it revealed weaker than expected trading in many of its markets.

The company has been hit by softer trading in France and Poland, while revenues at B&Q were down by 3.2​ per cent​ on an underlying basis in the 10 weeks to July 12 as sales of outdoor and seasonal products slumped ​eight per cent​ on a year ago.

Chief executive Sir Ian Cheshire said the quarter was always expected to be difficult after good weather brought forward sales into the previous quarter and the company came up against tough comparisons with last year.

However, he added: “Our markets in the second quarter, notably in June, have been slower than anticipated particularly in France and Poland.”

Shares slumped by more than ​seven per cent​ in the wake of the update, which led retail analyst Freddie George of Cantor Fitzgerald to cut his ‘top end of the range’ forecast for profits this year from £805​m​ to £780​m.

He said the distraction of the World Cup, which led to weakness in many home categories, was another factor in the disappointing performance.

Kingfisher is the world’s third largest home improvement chain, with 1,134 stores in nine countries in Europe and Asia. Its main retail brands are B&Q and Screwfix in the UK and Ireland and Castorama and Brico Depot in France.