Home improvement retailer Kingfisher today missed forecasts for sales growth in its latest quarter, held back by the weak performance of its French businesses. 

Kingfisher said its like-for-like sales rose 0.8% in the three months to April 30, its fiscal first quarter - below analysts' consensus forecast for growth of about 1.6%. 

Kingfisher's main businesses are B&Q and Screwfix in Ireland and the UK and Castorama and Brico Depot in France and elsewhere.

It is in the fourth year of a five-year programme that was designed to boost earnings. 

However, profits went backwards in its 2018-19 year and the group said in March it would part company with Véronique Laury, its CEO since 2014. 

Despite Laury's planned departure, the group is sticking to her strategy. Costing £800m over five years, it involves unifying product ranges across brands, boosting e-commerce and seeking efficiency savings. 

The group was up against weak comparative numbers in its first quarter. In the same period last year group like-for-like sales fell 4% as adverse weather dented demand. 

This year, first quarter like-for-like sales rose 3.4%, 6.2% and 24.6% in the UK and Ireland, Poland and Romania respectively but were down 3.7% in France. 

Total group sales were £2.8 billion in the quarter, up 1.7%. 

Kingfisher said its expectations for the full year were unchanged. Before today's update, analysts' average forecast for 2019-20 underlying pretax profit was £671m, down from £693m made in 2018-19. 

Kingfisher is launching several new ranges this year which it hopes will differentiate it from competitors, including surfaces, décor and bathrooms across the group, and kitchens in B&Q.