Europe's largest home improvement retailer Kingfisher on Thursday posted a smaller than expected fall in pretax profit and said its UK business should return to profit growth in the second half.

Adjusted pretax profit at the owner of B&Q came in at 178.5 million pounds, down 29 percent from a year ago, due to difficult trading in the UK home improvement market, but still slightly ahead of analysts' average forecast.

A survey of seven analysts estimated by Reuters showed they expected on average a fall in adjusted pretax profit to around 170 million pounds.

A poll of analysts conducted by Kingfisher put consensus estimates for adjusted pretax profit before exceptional items at 164 million pounds.

Group Chief Executive Gerry Murphy said in a statement that looking ahead there were signs of stabilisation in the UK market, where Kingfisher does more than a third of its business.

Overall, we expect Kingfisher to make progress in the second half, with B&Q UK returning to profit growth, he said.

Group sales rose 6 percent in the six-month period to 4.3 billion pounds, broadly in line with analysts' expectations.

Retail profit fell 20 percent in the second half in constant currency terms to 231.5 million pounds, but was flat in the second quarter, Kingfisher said.