Kingfisher's UK sales return to growth

LONDON, July 24 Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:14am EDT

LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) - Kingfisher, Europe's biggest home improvements retailer, returned to underlying sales growth in its domestic market in its latest quarter, helped by better British weather.

The firm, which runs the B&Q and Screwfix chains in Britain, 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 blamed on unseasonably cold weather.

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

Group like-for-like sales rose 2.5 percent.

The company said it was on track to deliver a first half in line with internal expectations, though it cautioned that underlying consumer confidence remained weak in its major markets.