B&Q-owner Kingfisher sees sales rise on warmer weather

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B&Q-owner Kingfisher has said it made a "strong" start to the year, with the warm weather helping to boost sales of barbecues and goods for the garden.

Total sales for the 13 weeks to the end of April rose by 3.3% to £2.73bn compared with a year earlier.

The group said higher sales and improved margins also helped to increase profits.

However, the retailer warned that the year as a whole would be "tough" for retailers, especially those in the UK.

Sales in the UK and the Irish Republic rose by 1.8% to £1.19bn, while those in France were up 4.1% to £1.1bn.

B&Q saw sales rise by 1.5% to £1.1bn, with garden furniture and outdoor paint selling particularly well, reflecting the warmer weather.

Barbecue bonus

"[We've] worked really hard on margins and costs so when we do see a bit of a sales improvement, which I think [in this case] is seasonally led and we wouldn't necessarily count on this continuing into the second quarter, we definitely see it on the bottom line," Kingfisher chief executive Ian Cheshire told the BBC.

"Maybe [customers] are buying things a bit earlier this year - barbecues are being bought in April and May rather than June and July."

However, he added that sales of some indoor goods were "down quite substantially".

Despite the improvement in sales and profits, shares in Kingfisher fell more than 3% in morning trading in London.

"General market malaise and some inevitable profit taking have hit Kingfisher shares," said Richard Hunter at Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers.

However, he said the company's shares had risen 26% in the past year and remained a "strong buy" in the eyes of the market.

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