B&Q owner Kingfisher today said it was on course for better than expected profits despite January’s snow storms scuppering sales growth.
The company said its tight rein on costs meant profits would be "slightly ahead" of the £540 million for the year to January 30 expected by the City.
Like-for-like sales for the final quarter at B&Q had been "slightly up" before the blizzards, which left comparative sales down 3.5% in the 13 weeks to January 30.
B&Q previously benefited from a 5.7% rise in like-for-like sales during the quarter to October 31, driven by higher sales of ``big ticket'' items and renewed DIY interest as customers opted to ``improve, not move''.
Despite the sales fall, B&Q’s margins were boosted by fewer price cuts, supply chain savings and stronger sales of higher-margin goods.
Chief executive Ian Cheshire said underlying sales trends remained "relatively resilient" over the period although the UK and Poland were worst-hit by the poor weather.
Comparative sales across the overall group were down 3% for the quarter, as Kingfisher also registered a 4.6% like-for-like sales decline in France, its other main market where the group trades as Castorama and Brico Depot.
The only part of the business to register growth was its international operations in Poland, China, Spain and Russia, where sales advanced 3.6% during the period.
For the year as a whole, Kingfisher registered total sales of £10.5 billion, which was 1.5% below the previous year on a same-store basis.
Numis analyst Andrew Wade edged up profit forecasts for the full year by £3 million to £544 million following the update.
He said: "The underlying trading trend bodes well for (the current year), particularly if some of the cold weather lost trade comes back."