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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006, 08:05 GMT
B&Q sales remain under pressure
B&Q sign
Despite price cuts and promotion B&Q is still struggling
The "depressed" state of the UK home improvement market is continuing to hit sales at DIY chain B&Q, owner Kingfisher has said.

Like-for-like sales - which exclude new store openings - at B&Q fell 9% to 850.3m in the 13 weeks to 28 January.

The fall followed an 8.4% decline in the previous quarter. B&Q also saw its margins slip as it cut prices and extended promotions to clear stocks.

Like-for-like sales at the Kingfisher group as a whole were down by 0.5%.

Looking ahead the group said it remained on course to meet profit expectations for the full financial year.

The UK home improvement market remains depressed and price competitive
Gerry Murphy, B&Q

Outside the UK, Kingfisher made "good progress" in all of its major markets as like-for-like sales rose 6.2% during the period.

In France, where it runs the Castorama and Brico Depot chains, Kingfisher saw like-for-like sales rise 2.5%, while in Asia like-for-like sales rose 8% with total sales up by 59%.

Tough market

"The UK home improvement market remains depressed and price competitive," said Gerry Murphy, group chief executive.

"B&Q's new management team has acted decisively to support short-term trading, manage stocks and reduce costs at the same time as accelerating the development of B&Q's stores, ranges and services for the future."

In an effort to turn around its fortunes in the UK, Kingfisher has embarked on a strategy of closures and job cuts - a move that will result in a one-off hit of 200m at the end of the financial year.

In September, it said pre-tax profits for the six months to 30 July fell to 250.8m from 287.6m last year - following falling sales at B&Q.

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