Building supplies group Travis Perkins have said an accelerated branch expansion programme enabled it to lift pre-tax profits 18.7% last year.
The Wickes owner said the addition of 75 stores and the acquisition of Tile Giant helped grow market share and expand its operating margin, leaving it with pre-tax profits for the year of £261.4 million.
The figure was slightly ahead of City expectations and meant shares in the Northampton-based group opened almost 2% higher today.
There was also encouragement from recent trading, with the company reporting growth ahead of the rest of the market, even though like-for-like sales in 2008 were some 3% to 4% lower than in 2007 amid a challenging market.
The company ended the calendar year with 1,125 branches, a figure which increased to 1,166 by the end of February. It picked up 31 Tile Giant stores after acquiring the tile retailer in a £12 million deal in November.
Chief executive Geoff Cooper said: "We are well placed to continue our progress in what we expect to be a more challenging market in 2008."