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British arm buoys Grafton

Materials group Grafton has lifted annual profits on the back of a robust performance in Britain despite an earnings decline in its Irish heartland.

Grafton, which is listed on both the Irish and London stock exchanges, saw pre-tax profits last year rise 8 per cent to £173.6 million. Revenue was up 9.6 per cent to £2.4 billion.

The Dublin-based company said operating profit in Ireland had suffered at the hands of a weaker residential construction market, falling 5 per cent to £94.1 million from last year’s record levels.

But group results were buoyed by growth in its UK business, with turnover and operating profits hitting record levels of £1.5 billion and £108.1 million respectively.

Despite a £67.9 million outlay for acquisitions, net debt was a fraction lower at £418.7, down from £419.1, owing to favourable exchange rates.

Grafton chairman Michael Chadwick said: “The group’s strong brands and its healthy financial position leave it well placed to respond to more demanding market conditions.”