Irish builders merchants chain Grafton Group plc has seen turnover fall 22% to £420m for the first three months of this year.
In an interim statement, issued this morning, the group said that they had seen "the most challenging trading conditions in decades". The merchanting business, which accounts of 85% of Grafton turnover saw a 25% drop in turnover in constant currency
The statement continued: "The reduced availability of credit which has become apparent over the last two years has led to significantly lower investment and spending on housing and residential repair, maintenance and improvement. The trading environment so far this year was very much weaker than the Group experienced in the first four months of 2008.
"As expected housing starts and completions have fallen and, combined with lower RMI spending, have significantly impacted the Group's merchanting and manufacturing businesses. Sales have also been affected by the poor weather in the early part of the year and the 15% decline in the average value of sterling against the euro in the period.
"The results for the first half of 2009 will reflect the challenging trading environment faced by the Group. However, in the second half the Group expects to benefit from the seasonally stronger trading period and the reduced cost base is on target to yield savings of up to €55 million in 2009. The Group continues to have the advantage of a strong balance sheet and has adequate financial resources to fund Group activities from internal cash generation, available and undrawn bank facilities and cash balances."