Kingfisher, Europe's biggest improvement retailer, posted a 20% surge in first quarter retail profit and said it would pay a £100m special dividend as part of its plans for extra shareholder rewards. 

The group runs market leader B&Q in Ireland and the UK and trades as Castorama and Brico Depot in France.

It said its profit for the 13 weeks to May 3 rose to £142m, just below a company compiled consensus forecast of £145m.

Boosted by better weather than in the same period ayear ago when Europe was hit by a deluge of rain and snow, group sales at stores open over a year rose 6.1%. 

"We have made a strong start to the year, capitalising on more favourable weather conditions right across Europe to achieve sales and profit growth in France, the UK & Poland, our three largest markets," chief executive Ian Cheshire said. 

Underlying sales in the UK and Ireland grew 10.1% as sunshine drove up sales of outdoor seasonal products like barbecues and garden furniture at B&Q. Sales at Screwfix also benefited from a strong promotional programme. 

In France, where Kingfisher makes about half of group profit, like-for-like sales rose 1.6%, with the impact of better weather offsetting soft underlying markets due to weak consumer confidence. 

The firm said exclusive talks to take over smaller French rival Mr Bricolage, announced in April, were ongoing. 

As part of a plan to return £200m in 2014/15,Kingfisher said today it would pay a special dividend of 4.2 pence per share on July 25. The firm, which in March outlined plans for a multi-year programme of cash returns, has already returned £35m via a share buyback.