DIY chain B&Q has reacted to the crisis of confidence in the retail sector by cutting around 400 office-based jobs from its business.

B&Q - burdened by a slump in like-for-like sales - said 220 posts will go at its Southampton headquarters, where more than 1,400 staff are employed.

Another 80 jobs will be lost from regional operations while B&Q owner Kingfisher said that 100 current job vacancies would not be filled.

The job cuts - widely leaked - follow a strategic review of the business by chief executive Ian Cheshire since taking over in June.

Mr Cheshire said: "B&Q is one of the country's bestknown brands and is nearly twice the size of its nearest competitor. However, we are in a tough retail environment and we need to play to our strengths to improve customer service and grow sales.

"As part of this, we need to streamline the business to focus on supporting stores and serving customers. The restructuring is about making our plan for the future work, as well as being driven by the need to cut costs."

The restructuring process, which is likely to involve some compulsory redundancies, will cost Kingfisher around £12 million.

B&Q is not making redundant any staff at its 339 stores in the UK.

Details emerged little more than a week before Kingfisher tells the market how it is coping with the ongoing downturn in consumer spending in the UK.

Many in the City believe its update on September 15 will take the form of a profits warning and could lead to downgrades of as much as £50 million.

B&Q has been at the heart of its problems and Kingfisher said profits at the chain in the first quarter were down 16 per cent and like-for-like sales were 7.7 per cent worse than a year earlier. Difficulties facing the group include strong competition and Britons putting off making home improvements because of worries about debt repayments, pensions and possible tax increases.

The downturn has led the City to reduce its forecasts for Kingfisher from as high as £694 million for the year to January 31 to around £580 million. A profits warning would see these numbers trimmed further.

As well as B&Q and Screwfix Direct in the UK, Kingfisher owns Castorama and Brico Depot in France and stores across Europe and Asia.