UPDATE 1-Kingfisher's UK sales return to growth

Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:46am EDT

LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) - Kingfisher, Europe's biggest home improvements retailer, said it was on track to deliver a first half in line with internal expectations after better weather helped it return to underlying sales growth in Britain.

The firm, which runs the B&Q and Screwfix chains in its home market, said on Wednesday sales at UK and Ireland stores open more than a year rose 2.5 percent in the 10 weeks to July 13, the bulk of its fiscal second quarter.

That compares with analysts' consensus forecast of a rise of 2.2 percent, according to a company poll, and a first-quarter fall of 4.7 percent that was blamed on unseasonably cold weather.

"We have been able to capitalise on the better weather conditions in Q2, particularly in the UK, which has helped us to deliver growth," Chief Executive Ian Cheshire said.

Total group sales increased 5.2 percent and were up 2.5 percent on a like-for-like basis.

B&Q saw sales of outdoor and seasonal products increase nearly 20 percent year on year, partly reflecting a July heat wave in Britain.

Like-for-like sales at Kingfisher's French business, comprising Castorama and Brico Depot, rose 1.1 percent, ahead of an analysts' consensus forecast of a fall of 0.8 percent.

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