US and Canada buoy Wolseley quarterly sales

 
Kasmira Jefford
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A GRADUAL recovery in the US housing market and continued growth in Canada has helped plumbing and builders merchant Wolseley offset revenue declines in Europe.

The company, which generates more than half its sales in the US, said trading profit rose to £198m in the quarter to 31 October compared with £185m in the period last year.

Like-for-like revenue grew by 2.1 per cent to £3.3bn in the three-moth period, thanks to a 7.1 per cent growth in revenues in the US on a like-for-like basis.

US government figures published this week showed spending on US construction projects rose 1.4 per cent in October from a month earlier – the highest level in three years.

However the owner of the Plumb Centre and Ferguson chains in Britain and the US said strong performances in the States and Canada were dragged down by sharp falls in continental Europe sales.

In France like-for-like revenue fell 8.2 per cent and by 4.8 per cent in the Nordic countries as construction markets and consumer sentiment weakened in those regions.

It said that a strategic review of the group’s struggling French arm is ongoing, after the business posted its third consecutive quarter of revenue shrinkage.

In the UK, where Wolseley agreed to acquire 22 sites from drainage supplier Burdens earlier in November, revenue was £428m, down 0.3 per cent like-for-like on the same period last year.

The group continues to rebalance the business towards its strongest markets, with headcount since July up 80 in the US and down 433 in the Nordics.