Builders and plumbers merchant group Wolseley said its first quarter trading performance was better than expected, with the UK’s profit performance ahead by nearly a third.
Group revenue in the three months to 31 October rose 2% to £3,471m from £3,395m the year before. Like for like sales grew 4%.
Trading profit in the UK & Ireland of £30m was up from £23m last year, thanks to the company jettisoning its Irish operations and a lower cost base. Overall UK revenue fell by 4% to £633m, though like-for-like sales were 5% ahead thanks to the disposal of Brandon Hire and other businesses.
Overall group gross profit edged up 2% to £938m from £916m the year before, while trading profit rose 39% to £159m from £114m (restated). This is down to increased sales but also prudent control of costs and gross margins.
In the key US market, demand in the residential and RMI markets continued to improve, and the business “made good progress in the Industrial and Waterworks sectors,” but demand in the Commercial sector remained low.
“Whilst demand has improved in most countries, pricing competition has remained intense. We continue to focus on improving customer service, growing market share, driving efficiencies and generating strong cash flow,” said chief executive Ian Meakins.