May 24, 2016 / 6:43 AM / a year ago

Kingfisher says sales growth driven by UK, Poland

A worker pulls a trolly outside a B&Q in Loughborough, Britain March 23, 2016.Darren Staples

LONDON (Reuters) - Kingfisher (KGF.L), Europe's largest home improvement retailer, said on Tuesday it had made a solid start to its new financial year, with sales growth driven by its markets in Britain and Poland.

The firm, which trades as Castorama and Brico Depot in France and B&Q and Screwfix in Britain and Ireland, also highlighted early progress in the five year strategic plan outlined by Chief Executive Veronique Laury in January.

Kingfisher said group sales at stores open over a year rose 3.6 percent in the three months to April 30, its fiscal first quarter.

Total sales rose 5.1 percent to 2.72 billion pounds.

“We have made a solid start to the year, trading in line with expectations," said Laury.

Kingfisher said a supportive economic backdrop and continued strong Screwfix performance drove a 6.2 percent increase in UK and Ireland like-for-like sales.

In France, the group's most profitable market, like-for-like sales rose by a more subdued 0.2 percent, but they were up 10.8 percent in Poland, benefiting from supportive market conditions and well-received new ranges.

In January, Laury announced a strategy to boost Kingfisher's annual profit by 500 million pounds from 2021 that will cost 800 million pounds over five years to deliver. The plan involves unifying the product offer across the business, improving its ecommerce capabilities and driving efficiencies. She also said the firm would return 600 million pounds to shareholders over the next three years through share buybacks.

Shares in Kingfisher, up 9.4 percent so far this year, closed on Monday at 360.5 pence, valuing the business at 8.21 billion pounds.

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Mark Potter

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