Recovery in the housing market set to lift Kingfisher’s UK sales

B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher is expected to report better UK sales bolstered by the continuing strength of the property market when it delivers a first-quarter update on Thursday.

Analysts on average expect the group will turn in first quarter profit of £145m, compared with £114m a year ago. Experts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch expect UK like-for-like sales will have risen six per cent, helped by robust trading and a late Easter

They said: “Kingfisher should benefit from increased project-related spend in the UK and Poland, on improving housing activity in these countries.”

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They were also bullish about likely performance in France, but other analysts think that Kingfisher’s continental operations may fare less well.

Share Centre investment manager Sheridan Admans said: “Lacklustre trading conditions prevailing in Europe is likely to continue to hamper the group’s continental operations.”

He said investors will also be keen on tracking the progress of the expansion of Kingfisher’s Screwfix brand into Germany and Portugal.

The firm runs DIY centres across a number of European markets, including Castorama and Brico Depot in France as well as a joint venture in Turkey called Koctas.

In April, the group revealed it was in talks over a £227m deal to buy French rival Mr Bricolage.

Kingfisher chief executive Sir Ian Cheshire said at the time the deal represented an “attractive growth opportu- nity”.

The group is searching for a joint venture partner to help turn around its Chinese opera- tions.