European home improvement chain Kingfisher will close a third of its 63 outlets in China over the next two years in response to ongoing losses, the Financial Times reported. The company, which owns the B&Q brand, saw net profit plunge 75% last year, partly due to its China operation racking up US$332 million in exceptional charges. “When the [housing] market goes from being plus 40% [growth] to minus 10%, you have to take some decisive action to get to a core profitable business that we can regrow,” said Kingfisher CEO Ian Cheshire. The company will revamp the 41 outlets it retains while reducing the size of 17 of these stores by renting out half the space to other retailers such as Carrefour, Tesco and Gome. Analysts expect the company to post a US$58 million loss in China for the current year, after recording a US$75 million loss in the year to January 31. B&Q’s China sales fell 24% year-on-year to US$624 million during the period.
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