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Kingfisher Sales Slow as Wet Weather Hits B&Q

Britain's Kingfisher, Europe's biggest home improvements retailer, said on Thursday sales growth slowed in the second quarter as wet weather hit the performance of its UK market leader B&Q.

Kingfisher, which also owns Castorama in France, said group like-for-like sales grew by 2.6% in the 10 weeks to July 14, down from 6.7% in the first quarter. B&Q's underlying sales fell 2.3% in the period.

According to a Reuters poll of four analysts, the retailer had been expected to post underlying group sales growth of some 2.1% on average, within a range of 1.5% to 2.5%, while seven analysts had forecast B&Q sales to fall by about 1.4%.

"In the UK all our businesses delivered sales growth despite the market continuing to be weak and promotional," Chief Executive Gerry Murphy said in a trading update.

"Abnormal weather patterns boosted sales in the first quarter, but were very unhelpful in the second. B&Q is making good progress modernising its stores and updating its ranges," he added.

When reporting a 6.7% increase in first quarter like-for-like sales in May, Murphy had warned demand in the second half could be dented by interest rate rises.

Interest rates have been raised five times in less than a year, encouraging debt-laden shoppers to cut back spending on big-ticket items.

Kingfisher shares closed at 216-1/2 pence on Wednesday, valuing the company at around 5.15 billion pounds ($10.6 billion).

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