Plumbers merchant group Wolseley has seen total group sales rise 5% in the first quarter, although the UK performance was weaker.
Like-for-like revenue in the UK fell 3% to £591m, with trading profit at £24m, which was £6m below last year. However, £3m of this was due to the effect of disposals, mainly Build Center and Encon.
The trading profit included £1m of one-off credits relating to the profit on disposal of surplus property. Pipe and Climate and Drain Center performed well generating strong growth and improving their performance. Bathstore revenues continued to be lower than last year.
Group like-for-like revenue growth was 5%, with gross margin of 27.1%, 0.1% ahead of last year. Trading profit was 16% ahead at £185m.
Ian Meakins, chief executive said: “Wolseley has continued to grow well, with strong growth in the USA offset by lower growth in some of our European businesses.
“Given continuing macroeconomic uncertainty, trading conditions may get tougher in the coming months. We will remain vigilant on costs and continue to drive performance improvements, strong cash conversion and better customer service. Our balance sheet is strong and the Group is well positioned to continue to invest selectively where we can generate good returns.”
On 31 October 2011 the Group sold Encon, the UK insulation business, which generated revenue of £183 million and trading profit of £5 million in the year ended 31 July 2011. Cash consideration of £20 million was paid on completion with a further £22 million satisfied through the issue of loan notes repayable in 2016.