British expansion is priority for Grafton

Irish building supplies group Grafton has announced plans to prioritise its expansion in the UK.

In an interview with Reuters, the chief executive Gavin Slark said that, once it switches its listings to London in October, the recovering British market will be the company's focal point for expansion.

Last week, Grafton announced its move to the London Stock Exchange. It is the third-largest building supplies merchant in Britain, operating under the Selco and Buildbase brands, and makes three quarters of its more than €2bn of annual revenue in the UK. Following the financial crisis, the company slashed its workforce by a quarter and more than halved its net debt.

Top of the list, says Reuters, is Grafton's expanding by a third the company's profitable Selco warehouse network, which Slark said has become the merchant of choice for the British "white van man".

Reuters reports:

Slark, the former boss of British plumbing and heating firm BSS, plans to expand Grafton beyond Britain, Ireland and its other main market of Belgium, which it entered only recently.

"I've probably got a list of 120 towns in the UK where potentially we should have a presence so there is real potential for us to carry on growing in the UK and the availability of cash is not an issue," Slark said in a telephone interview.

We still plan to develop our Belgian business but our biggest market is the UK so it's a fair assumption to say that's where most of the development activity will take place."

Grafton sees a recovery taking hold across much of the country, but Slark warned against raising expectations too high.

"Although there will be growth, I think we just need to temper the enthusiasm a little bit. The summer was just a little bit euphoric for me," said Slark, who took charge two year ago."