Wolseley still wary despite lift in profits

WOLSELEY, the world’s biggest building supplies company, posted a 16 per cent rise in first-quarter trading profits yesterday and warned it will remain vigilant on costs due to uncertainty over the outlook.

The FTSE 100 company said underlying operating profit rose 16 per cent to £185m in the three months to the end of October, helped by strong growth across its US businesses.

Overall like-for-like revenue was up five per cent to £3.64bn.

“Wolseley has continued to grow well, with strong growth in the US offset by lower growth in some of our European businesses,” said chief executive Ian Meakins in a statement.

“Given continuing macroeconomic uncertainty, trading conditions may get tougher in the coming months,” he added.

Wolseley, operator of the Plumb Centre and Ferguson chains in Britain and the United States, said that like-for-like revenue rose 10 percent in the US, and all its key businesses continued to take market share. This compares with a three per cent decline in like-for-like revenue during the first quarter in the UK.

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.