Kingfisher, owner of home improvement store B&Q, and Screwfix Direct, which supplies tools and material to trade, has seen its profits halved. Pre-tax profits were down more than 60 per cent to £231.8 million for the year, from £647.7m last year. Kingfisher has put the blame firmly on the dismal UK home improvement market with sales in the UK dropping 3.7 per cent to £3.9 billion.

Gerry Murphy, Kingfisher group chief executive, said at the results briefing that the new management team at B&Q launched an action programme in the middle of last year to improve the situation. It includes an improvement in business processes, a more efficient supply chain to improve stock availability and the closure of some of its larger, less productive stores and the downsizing of others. Last year the company invested in a new infrastructure, introduced e-procurement and improved its in-store ordering processes. It also signed up for IBM’s hosted consumer demand management service, which allows it to use the on-demand service to price its goods.

Kingfisher’s Screwfix Direct business, which includes online operation diy.com, has installed a Cisco IP network in its new head offices in Yeovil, Somerset, and its customer call centres. It is also upgrading its contact centre facility, which will be fully integrated with an IP telephony platform. The Extreme Networks data network infrastructure will integrate with existing and new core systems.