Kingfisher Profit Beats Estimates on Growth in U.K., Poland

  • U.K. retailer to sell rest of B&Q China for 60 million pounds
  • Company says it remains `cautious' on outlook for France

Kingfisher Plc, Europe’s largest home-improvement retailer, reported profit that beat estimate amid growth in the U.K. and Poland.

Pretax profit before one-time items was little changed at 678 million pounds ($961 million) in the year ended Jan. 31, the London-based retailer said in a statement Wednesday. Analysts expected 667 million pounds, according to the average estimate.

The shares rose 1.1 percent in London as Kingfisher also revealed that it has agreed to complete its exit from B&Q China. Wumei Holdings Inc., which acquired a controlling 70 percent stake in the unit last year, will buy the rest for about 60 million pounds.

The higher-than-expected profit will be a boost for Kingfisher investors, who were warned this year that Chief Executive Officer Veronique Laury’s plan to boost profit through unifying Kingfisher’s buying and operations would incur costs of 800 million pounds. In the U.K., Kingfisher is mitigating the tendency of time-pressed Brits to hire professionals to spruce up their homes through its tradesmen-oriented Screwfix chain.

“In the short term, the fundamentals of the U.K. economic backdrop remain positive, although we remain cautious on the outlook for France,” Chief Financial Officer Karen Witts said in the statement. “The outlook for the wider global economy remains uncertain, and the impact of the outcome of the U.K. EU referendum is unknown.”

Kingfisher has declared its support for Britain to remain part of the European Union. Making a contingency plan is difficult until the result of the referendum is known, Witts said on a conference call.

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