Builders and plumbers merchant group Wolseley saw its shares rise last week after it released a trading update indicating a return to growth by the year end in July.
Shares on Friday rose 80p to 1,742p after the update suggested that trading profit is likely to be more than the current analysts’ forecast of £374m.
The UK business, whilst seeing sales 5% lower than the comparable period a year ago, was considerably more profitable (£31m against £13m), thanks to stringent cost-cutting, although the figures did include the off-loaded Irish businesses up to January 8. Like-for-like sales were 4% up. Group like-for-like revenue fell 2% in the third quarter, the smallest drop for a year.
Ian Meakins, chief executive said: “Demand across the markets in which we operate remains mixed though most markets continue to stabilise. Our focus remains on improving customer service, maintaining market share and margins, driving efficiencies in our cost base and cash generation.”
Group revenue was £3,252m, 7% below last year. The gross margin at 27.8% in the quarter was 0.5% higher than last year. Trading profit of £101m was £53m up on last year.