Problems in the euro zone could offer an opportunity for UK listed DIY giant Kingfisher, its CEO, Ian Cheshire, told CNBC Thursday.
Following the release of forecast-beating first-half profits, Cheshire said his firm’s strong balance sheet gave it the option to be aggressive.
“The market could favor a firm on the front foot looking to expand,” said theKingfisher CEO in a CNBC first interview.
The French market, where Kingfisher operates the Castorama and Brico Depot stores, had a strong quarter as sales and profits both rose despite uncertainty over the euro zone crisis.
Profit margins where helped by buying more goods centrally, which where then rebranded as own-brand and sold at Kingfisher's operations in France, the UK and Poland.
The UK had a difficult quarter as poor weather and the collapse of a smaller rival saw clearance sales distort the market. Cheshire took advantage of the collapse of rival Focus by snapping up 29 stores in areas where one of its own B&Q stores does not have a presence, according to Cheshire, who is investing 130 million pounds ($204 million) in his domestic market and looking to hire 1,200 people.
Chinese sales fell by 7.7 percent but Cheshire believes the long-term story remains strong.
“Overall growth in China is very strong but the housing market is very volatile due to the government’s attempts to curb inflation,” said Cheshire.
First-half profits at Kingfisher came in at 439 million pounds versus a Reuters forecast of 409 million pounds.