Sales at DIY retailer B&Q were hit by the Beast from the East in the first three months of the year after it was forced to close stores in the face of extreme weather.
Figures from its parent company, Kingfisher, show that like-for-like sales in the three months to April 30 dropped by a disappointing nine per cent.
Total sales at B&Q in the period also fell, by 8.8 per cent to £828million. The freezing weather hit footfall and sales in weather-related categories, Kingfisher said.
Plunging sales: B&Q owner Kingfisher said it was hit by the extreme weather conditions earlier in the year
Sales at its French DIY chain Castorama also fell eight per cent.
Veronique Laury, Kingfisher boss, also pointed to weak consumer demand as denting the firm’s performance.
She said: ‘It was a challenging start to the year, with exceptionally harsh weather across Europe and weak UK consumer demand.
‘This impacted footfall, especially sales of weather-related categories. February and March were particularly affected, with sales improving over the course of April and into May.
‘Market conditions continue to be mixed. The UK is uncertain.’
Sister company Screwfix, the group’s stand-out performer, booked a 3.6 per cent increase in comparable sales.
The firm sells trade tools, accessories and hardware products.
But it was not enough to stop the group from posting a four per cent slide in like-for-like sales in the quarter.
Total sales at the group were down 1.2 per cent to £2.8billion, while UK sales dipped 3.7 per cent to £1.2billion.
B&Q is in the middle of an overhaul, which has seen it shut 65 shops and slash around 3,000 jobs in the UK and Ireland over the last two years.
But Ms Laury insisted her turnaround was beginning to bear fruit.
She added: ‘We are on track to deliver our One Kingfisher strategic milestones for the third year in a row and we continue to see tangible delivery of our plan,’ she said.
‘Around 40 per cent of our ranges are now unified and continue to be well received by customers.
‘Sales of these ranges, excluding outdoor products, are up, and we expect to grow the full year Group gross margin, after clearance costs.’
Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: ‘The song remains the same at Kingfisher, where performance varies by both business and by region.
‘Gross margins should improve over the course of the year and Kingfisher’s increasing reliance on digital, now accounting for around half of sales, positions it well in the evolving technology environment.
‘There has been enough uncertainty to put pressure on the performance of the stock, which has dropped 16.5 per cent over the last three months alone.
‘Even so, the market view towards the company remains optimistic, with the consensus coming in at a buy ahead of the ongoing transformation.’
Shares in Kingfisher fell 1.25 per cent in morning trading to 292.1p.