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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 September 2005, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
B&Q to close 22 stores in revamp
B&Q store
People are cutting back on DIY
B&Q-owner Kingfisher has said it is to shut 22 of the DIY chain's stores as it faces up to what it describes as the "toughest" market conditions for years.

The firm said it would also be reducing the size of about 16 other B&Q stores.

The consumer slowdown has hit sales of DIY goods hard and earlier this month B&Q shed 400 office jobs as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Kingfisher said profits for the six months to 30 July fell to 250.8m ($456.5m) from 287.6m last year.

"It has been a challenging period for Kingfisher. Difficult trading conditions in the UK and France had a clear impact on the first-half trading performance," the company said.

Downsizing

Like-for-like sales at B&Q were down 7%, Kingfisher said.

These are the toughest markets Kingfisher has faced in many years
Gerry Murphy, Kingfisher chief executive

The company did not specify which stores would be closed, but said the 22 outlets being shut were in markets "already well served by other B&Q stores".

About 16 of B&Q's Warehouse stores will be converted to the mini-Warehouse format, and the space released will be marketed to other retailers, Kingfisher said.

Kingfisher added it would take a one-off charge of 200m to cover the costs of the store changes and job cuts.

In addition to the well-documented slowdown in UK spending, Kingfisher said that the French DIY market was growing at its slowest rate for eight years.

"Rising unemployment caused demand to soften, whilst price deflation and increased competition had a further impact on DIY like-for-like sales (in France)," the company said.

Like-for-like sales at its French businesses grew 1%, but its main Castorama home improvement chain saw same-store sales drop 3.2%.

"Whilst these are the toughest markets Kingfisher has faced in many years, particularly in the UK, B&Q UK and Castorama France are acting to drive sales and improve cost productivity," said Kingfisher's chief executive Gerry Murphy.


SEE ALSO:
B&Q cuts 400 jobs in costs drive
06 Sep 05 |  Business
B&Q sales slide hits Kingfisher
26 May 05 |  Business
B&Q owner warns of falling profit
27 Apr 05 |  Business
B&Q owner builds up profit base
17 Mar 05 |  Business
French boost for Kingfisher sales
16 Sep 04 |  Business


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