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Rising home prices drive DIY spending in Britain


European home improvement market shows steady growth

European report - September 18 - The European home improvement market continues to grow at a steady pace, according to a Dow Jones report. For the first six months of the year, the United Kingdom home channel market increased 4 percent, while the French market inched up 2.5 percent.

Kingfisher ' B&Q chain, the United Kingdom ' largest home improvement retailer, grew its market share by introducing new products and lower prices. The company opened eight new warehouse stores, including a two-level store in Sutton reinforcing B&Q ' intention to penetrate metropolitan areas. The retailer also opened its first store in Dublin, Ireland.

In France, the newly combined chains of Castorama and Brico Depot grew in overall market share. Castorama'  banner stores in France reported total sales growth of 1.7 percent in the first six months. The retailer'  garden category showed the strongest improvement, with same-store department sales increasing 5 percent through new product introductions and competitive pricing. So far this year, the retailer opened two new stores and relocated four.

Brico Depot also had a strong first half, with total sales increasing 35.8 percent. Sales were hurt following the introduction of the Euro, but stronger gross margins and improved efficiencies helped boost business. Castorama has been aggressively opening Brico Depot stores and converting Castorama stores to the Brico Depot banner. The company says the Brico Depot stores cost significantly less to operate and are 10 times more profitable than traditional Castorama stores.

Despite difficult economic conditions, Castorama Poland grew sales by 39 percent in the first six months, while earnings jumped more than 50 percent. The retailer opened three new stores in the first half, bringing the total to 15.

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