Kingfisher , Europe's No.1 home improvements retailer, beat forecasts with a 14 percent rise in third-quarter earnings as market share gains and a drive to improve margins offset weak sales in Britain and slowing growth in France.

The group, which runs British market leader B&Q as well as Castorama and Brico Depot in France and elsewhere, said on Thursday it made a retail profit of 273 million pounds in the 13 weeks to October 29.

That beat an average forecast of 263 million pounds in a Reuters poll of 12 analysts, although marked a slowdown from 18 percent growth in the first half of the year.

Kingfisher, with around 900 stores in eight countries, has been offsetting weak demand in many of its markets with a drive to improve profitability by buying more goods centrally, and directly, from cheaper manufacturing centres like China.

(Reporting by Mark Potter; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)