B&Q owner Kingfisher has kicked off the search for a new chief executive as it revealed plans for another raft of store closures amid tumbling annual profits.

Kingfisher said it had begun succession planning for under-fire boss Veronique Laury, but has not yet set a date for her departure and confirmed she will remain in post until a successor has been appointed.

The group also said it is considering axing another 15 stores group-wide over the next two years on top of plans to shut all 19 Screwfix outlets in Germany, leaving it with just an online presence for the brand in that country.

The firm did not give details of which stores, including those in Cumbria, would be axed or how many jobs could be affected, but said the closures will be across the group including the UK.

Kingfisher reported a 52.8 per cent drop in pre-tax profits to £322 million for the year to January 31.

Stripping out costs including £111m for store closures, underlying pre-tax profits fell 13 per cent to £693m.

Kingfisher has shut 65 shops and slash around 3,000 jobs in the UK and Ireland. It has also been shaking up its ranges and improving its online offering, while it recently announced it was investing £100m as part of plans to lower everyday prices.