Gerry Murphy, chief executive of home improvement retail group Kingfisher, said the retailer was in a strong position for the second half despite the prospect of difficult trading conditions. Financial Times. The Guardian. The Times

He predicted a tougher second half in the UK as Kingfisher reported a 3% rise in interim pretax profits.

’The UK . . . remains relatively weak,’ adding, ‘Our international diversity and buying scale are key competitive advantages and we will continue to capitalise on them. Interest rates could well have topped out so that is broadly good news.’

Kingfisher’s international operations account for more than 50% of sales and about 60% of profits.

In the UK, its largest market, Kingfisher owns B&Q and Screwfix. Sales rose 1.9% on a like-for-like basis and 7% overall to £2.32bn.

However, in France – where Kingfisher owns the Castorama and Brico Dépôt chains – sales were up 7.8% to £1.61bn and 3.5% on a like-for-like basis.