Grafton cancels Irish listing for London market

Kasmira Jefford
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IRISH builders merchant Grafton is to scrap its Dublin listing tomorrow and move to the London market instead as it looks to tap into growing investor appetite driven by improvements in the housing sector and the wider construction market.

The group, which currently has a secondary listing in London, expects to join the ranks of the FTSE 250 following the London Stock Exchange’s quarterly review of the index in November, with a market value of around £1.4bn.

Grafton, which owns brands including Selco and Buildbase, is the UK’s third largest builders merchant behind Wolseley and Travis Perkins. The group expects to posts sales of £2.2bn this year.

However chief executive Gavin Slark said the company has remained relatively low profile due to its Irish listing, describing it as “the biggest company you have never heard of”.

Slark hopes to widen its shareholder base by making London its primary listing and said that he had been “pleasantly surprised” by interest expressed so far by potential investors.

“With London being the most important equities market in Europe and with most of our business being generated in the UK , we felt we were underrepresented by London-based shareholders,” Slark told City A.M.

Ireland was Grafton’s most profitable business until the housing market crash, which saw transactions in the country plummet from 90,000 to 4,000 per year. The country now accounts for just 25 per cent of the group’s turnover.

Slark, who took over as chief executive in 2011, said that the Irish arm’s recovery was on track and would remain an “important” part of the business, with its headquarters remaining in Dublin.

“Grafton has been really well served by the Dublin market for a number of year but the timing felt right to change our listing,” he added.