Describing market conditions as "tough", the firm said new build and home improvement activities had considerably dropped off compared to the same period last year.
In an interim management statement it said: "As previously reported, the market conditions facing the group in 2008 continue to be tough and sales in the first quarter were down."
The statement added: "There is uncertainty as to how the markets will perform over the remainder of the year. Despite these market conditions, the group remains focused on driving hard its specific earnings and cash generation plans and the board believes its businesses are performing as well as conditions permit.
"The overall outturn for the year will be heavily dependent on how our key markets perform over the coming months."
But sales of its architectural hardware brands grew significantly in the period primarily due to the benefit of the acquisition of Irish company Avenco.
The group said its Carlisle Brass businesses had also continued to win market share in the UK.
A further trading update will be released in early July.