Build Center chain Wolseley posted another record set of results yesterday after continuing to benefit from the booming home improvement market.
The building and plumbing materials specialist said its UK division, which employs 12,000 people at 1,500 sites, had been the strongest of its markets in Europe after halfyear sales rose 13.6 per cent to £1.16 billion.
Across the group, sales of £5.33 billion in the six months to January 31 represented a 16.5 per cent gain on a constant currency basis, lifting profits before tax by 34.6 per cent to £287.2 million - a rise of 26.9 per cent after currency movements.
The Reading-based group, which plans to build a huge new distribution centre at Spa Park in Leamington Spa where it is also developing its UK headquarters, added that it was confident of further progress as markets conditions in North America and the UK were expected to remain favourable.
It is the ninth time that Wolseley has posted a record set of first half results.
The company said the repairs, maintenance and improvement markets had been the driving force behind the growth in its UK business, although it said the commercial sector, including Government spending, had also improved.
As a result of the high rate of organic growth and strong cost controls, Wolseley said trading profits in the UK increased by 15 per cent and helped the Europe-wide figure jump 18 per cent to £127.4 million.
Chief executive Charles Banks said: "The business is performing well and the economic outlook for the rest of the year gives us confidence going forward."
Shares closed up 5p at 1100p.