Kingfisher's B&Q
kingfisher, which owns B&Q, said annual adjusted pre-tax profits lifted 8% to £743m Reuters

Kingfisher said it was concerned that uncertainty around Brexit and next month's French elections may hit trading, despite upbeat 2016 profits from the DIY chain owner.

Chief executive Véronique Laury said: "Looking forward, the European Union referendum has created uncertainty for the UK economic outlook and we remain cautious on the outlook for France, especially in light of the forthcoming presidential elections."

However, the group, which trades as B&Q and Screwfix in Britain and Castorama and Brico Depot in France, said adjusted annual pre-tax profits lifted 8% to £743m ($926m), a figure that excludes the gain from the disposal of B&Q China.

This is ahead of analysts' average forecast of £714m, and the £686m profit the group posted in 2015.

Like for like sales at Screwfix, which caters for builders, rose 14%, with the company planning to open 50 more stores this year. But same store sales at the company's French chains fell by 2.8%.

Last year Laury set out a strategy to boost Kingfisher's annual profit by £500m from 2021 that will cost £800m over five years to deliver. The plan involves simplifying the firm's product ranges, improving its e-commerce business and cost cutting.

Laury said the plan was on track after the first year and reaffirmed the five-year financial targets. She said: "We are well set up for next year and beyond as the level of activity increases."

Kingfisher has faced UK competition in the DIY market from Homebase, which was bought by Australian conglomerate Wesfarmers for £340m last year.

Wesfarmers plans to refit and rebrand all Homebase stores as Bunnings, the Australian DIY retail chain, within the next five years.

Kingfisher also announced chairman Daniel Bernard was stepping down after eight years. He will be replaced in June with Andy Cosslett, a former chief executive of InterContinental Hotels Group and Fitness First.