Wolseley profit rises but Europe still drags

 
City A.M. Reporter
Wolseley, the world's biggest building supplies company, said recent growth had slowed on weaker trading in Europe, as it posted a 28 per cent rise in first-half profit.

Wolseley, operator of the Plumb Centre and Ferguson chains in Britain and the United States, said pre-tax profit in the six months to end-Jan was £250m, with revenue up three per cent to £6.84bn.

Sales at Wolseley's US business, which represent around 45 per cent of revenue, rose nine per cent and the firm said trading conditions there and in Canada had continued to be strong.

The UK, which represents 15 per cent of sales, declined three per cent, while growth across Europe was mixed, with countries like Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland hampering growth elsewhere.

Earlier this year the company sold its French distribution division Brossette and its UK-based Build Centre business for £310m to Saint-Gobain - which also owns the UK chain Jewson - as part of a disposal strategy.

The group increased its interim dividend by 33 per cent to 20 pence per share.