LONDON (Reuters) – Kingfisher, owner of the Castorama and Brico Dépôt brands, lowered its annual pre-tax profit forecast by 7% on Tuesday due to weak demand in France and Poland which offset the recovery in the British and Irish markets .

Kingfisher, which also owns the B&Q and Screwfix brands in Great Britain, now expects a pre-tax profit of around 590 million pounds (684 million euros) for its financial year ending at the end of January, or 22% of less than the previous year.

On the London Stock Exchange, Kingfisher shares fell by more than 5% in early trading.

In France, sales fell by 3.8% like-for-like in the first half and fell by 10.9% in Poland, due to a very high basis of comparison and a weaker than expected second quarter. .

In contrast, sales in the UK and Ireland increased by 1.7% during the period, driven by significant market share gains from Screwfix. The brand is expanding internationally, particularly in France where it has nine stores.

“In the medium to long term, we remain very positive on the growth prospects of the home improvement sector in our markets, and we are confident in our ability to gain market share and achieve our financial objectives at medium term”, assured the group’s general director, Thierry Garnier, quoted in a press release.

Kingfisher has announced a new £300 million share buyback program from October.

(Reporting Sarah Young; Nathan Vifflin, edited by Blandine Hénault)

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