Build Center owner Wolseley has became the latest firm to be hit by the sluggish housing market after it reported slower growth in the UK.
In an update ahead of its annual results, the building and plumbing materials specialist said its UK division had shown good growth but at a slower level in recent months.
It came as Wolseley revealed group operating profits were more than 15 per cent higher in the 11 months to June 30 against the same period last year, while sales were up by more than ten per cent. Wolseley is building a huge new distribution centre at Spa Park in Leamington Spa.
Finance director Steve Webster said the slowdown in the housing market had had an impact on repairs, maintenance and improvement markets. However, Government spending on hospitals and schools in the UK was still strong. "The UK has definitely slowed down over the last three or four months compared with the first half but we are still seeing growth and that's what we expect to see going forward," Mr Webster said.
Mr Webster refused to comment on recent speculation that Wolseley could be planning to buy DIY chain B&Q from its owner Kingfisher.
The UK accounts for around 20 per cent of Wolseley's sales. The Reading-based group said the strong increase in sales and profits was driven by high rates of organic growth in North America, as well as "good growth" in the UK, albeit at a slower pace.
Market conditions in North America were expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future, although the group's main markets in Continental Europe were likely to remain flat. Wolseley's shares closed at 539p down 1p.