A profit slump in Kingfisher's general merchandise division has added to the uncertainty surrounding the future of its Woolworths General Store and Big W formats. It revealed profits were down over 25% at Woolworths and over 17% at Superdrug in its preliminary results announcement this week. Kingfisher had planned to migrate its Superdrug and Woolworths estate into the new General Store convenience format at 500 outlets nationwide. But now the poor performances on merchandise will add to the pressure on Kingfisher to pursue trade sales of the component businesses, say analysts. And separate sales could jeopardise the future of General Store and Big W's superstores without a guarantee from buyers to protect the formulas. City analyst Ian McDougall from Williams de Broe said: "If someone offers a fancy price for Superdrug, Kingfisher would have to take it." Kingfisher said: "The demerger of the general merchandise division will be completed by the end of May. We are in also negotiations over a trade sale of Superdrug. Woolworths may be disposed of in a leveraged buyout or separate flotation. Big W and General Store format would stay with Woolworths." {{NEWS }}