Grafton says UK market a little more settled

 
City A.M. Reporter
Irish building and home improvement supplies group Grafton said prospects in its main British market were a little better than a year ago, as it posted a 19 per cent rise in first-half operating profit.

Grafton, which said last month its revenue for the first half had risen by four per cent to €1.05bn (£834m), added today that underlying operating profit had increased to €31.3m from €26.2m a year earlier as a result.

That compared to profits of €124.4m made in the first half of 2007 before construction activity collapsed in Ireland following the bursting of a property bubble that made the Dublin-based group loss-making in 2009.

Grafton has weathered the sustained hiatus in housebuilding activity in Ireland due to expansion in Britain, which now accounts for over three quarters of turnover, and the group said the economic environment there remained challenging.

"Although we still see the outlook as a little bit uncertain and it's still a bit challenging, there is certainly more stability in the UK market than there was this time last year," chief executive Gavin Slark said.

"There is still a degree of uncertainty, as there is right across Europe and I think the UK is included in that."