Wolseley's first-half profit climbs 28 per cent

But recent growth slows in Europe for the Ferguson operator.

Building blocks: sales rise in the US, but a mixed picture in Europe . Credit: Getty Images.

Wolseley, the world's biggest building-supplies company, has posted a profit before tax of £250m for the half-year ended 31 January 2012 – an increase of 28 per cent compared to £195m for the same period the previous year. 

Revenue increased by 3 per cent to £6.84bn, up from £6.63bn for the same period in 2011. 

The British company’s US trading, which generates around 45 per cent of group revenues, rose 9 per cent in the period (contributing £2.97bn); the UK market, which comprises around 15 per cent of the group’s revenues, declined by 3 per cent. 

The group’s trading profit increased by 3 per cent to £310m (2011: £275m). 

Ian Meakins, chief executive of Wolseley, said: “Wolseley has delivered another decent performance, despite challenging economic conditions in Europe, with like-for-like revenue growth of 5 per cent. The underlying gross margin was maintained and our ongoing focus on operational efficiency has delivered further improvements in the trading margin of the ongoing business.” 

Like-for-like revenue growth was 5 per cent. The group’s gross margins declined slightly, partly as a result of significant copper price deflation in the first quarter. 

Net finance costs were reduced to £15m (2011: £31m), reflecting the lower level of net debt and the benefits of the refinancing completed in 2011. As of 31 January 2012, the group’s net debt was £470m (2011: £714m). 

The group completed sales of Encon and Build Center during the first half of 2012 and Brossette is expected to be dropped in the near future.