British home improvement group Kingfisher is considering buying the Italian furniture chain Mercatone Uno, according to reports in Europe.

Kingfisher, owner of UK DIY and home retailer B&Q and many others across the continent, is competing with furniture conglomerate Steinhoff to pick up the circa €600m chain, which has 80 stores across Italy.

Financial newspaper Milano Finanza reported that the two retail giants are both interested in buying Mercatone Uno, which employs 3,700 people and besides furniture also sells white goods.

It claimed Kingfisher is interested in using the business to take on IKEA in the Italian market, while it said Steinhoff owned Conforama wants to beef up its presence in the country, where it currently only has just over a dozen stores.

Mercatone Uno last month entered a restructuring process designed to protect it from creditor action. It has seen sales drop substantially from their former level around €1bn, Milano Finanza claimed.