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Wolseley upbeat on UK business

Wolseley bucked tough trading conditions with an 11 per cent rise in profits and a forecast of more growth to come.
The improvement for the domestic business, which operates from 1,570 outlets, helped the worldwide group to post profits slightly ahead of expectations at £691.2 million for the year to July 31, up 15.6 per cent on 2004.

Wolseley expects the repairs, maintenance and improvement and housing markets to show modest growth with positive trends in government spending likely to have an impact on sales.

The forecast came after a year in which the UK division was said to have performed strongly against a slowing market, even though growth in the second half of the period was more affected by weaker consumer confidence.

As a result sales from the division, which includes the Plumb Center chain, were up 11.7 per cent to £2.34 billion.

Wolseley's North American division contributed strongly to the performance as profits from plumbing and heating rose 17.7 per cent to £296.5 million, amid hopes the market in the region will remain healthy for the rest of the year.

Wolseley said: 'In view of the current consumer caution, the year is likely to prove more challenging but, overall, the UK business should show gains in market share and growth for the year as a whole.'

Today's results were accompanied by the appointment of Chip Hornsby to Wolseley's North American division as successor to Charles Banks, who is due to step down as chief executive at the end of July.

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