B&Q owner Kingfisher reported a slight increase in sales of 1.5% for the last quarter, but profits were under pressure as British consumers continued to struggle in this tough economic climate.

Ian Cheshire, group chief executive, told the markets on Thursday that poor weather and weak consumer confidence had made life hard for Kingfisher, which also owns the Screwfix catalogue company.

B&Q saw total sales for the 14 weeks fall 6.4% to £842 million, but Screwfix saw its total sales rise by 10.3% to £155m, credited to the continued roll out of new outlets and the success of 'click, pay & collect'.

Initiatives to manage costs across the business and its new 'Creating the Leader' programme, which aims to help customers build more sustainable homes, were also starting to have a positive impact on the company's balance sheet, he said.

"Looking ahead we will continue to actively manage the business in these challenging markets with particular focus on improving our customer offer, optimising our cash generation and delivering shareholder value," Cheshire added.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said the twin perils of a sluggish housing market and individuals' financial restraint do not play well for a company such as Kingfisher.

"In addition, the management outlook comments are reflective of a situation which is unlikely to change markedly in the nearer term. Even so, the company has been concentrating on refining the basics, keeping a tight control on costs and taking measures to protect margins. The additional focus on cash generation and delivering shareholder value has been well received, as evidenced by a small spike in the price in early trade."

And Phil Wong, stockbroker at Redmayne-Bentley, said the results were "encouraging for the retailer, given the sector has struggled in the current economic climate".