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"Most markets continued to grow in the first quarter and the Group's trading performance was slightly ahead of management expectations," said Ian Meakins, Wolseley chief executive. "Whilst demand has improved in most countries, pricing competition has remained intense. We continue to focus on improving customer service, growing market share, driving efficiencies and generating strong cash flow."
Sales in the U.S. grew 10 percent over last year, with like-for-like growth of 6 percent. Demand in residential and RMI markets continued to improve, and the business saw improvement in the industrial and waterworks sectors. Demand in the Commercial sector remained subdued. Trading profit of £80 million was £18 million ahead of last year as a result of the improvement in revenue.
Canada generated revenue 16 percent ahead of last year, 7 percent on a like-for-like basis. The waterworks and industrial PVF businesses continued to perform strongly. Trading profit of £16 million was £4 million ahead of last year.
Sales in the UK declined by 4 percent in the quarter, though like-for-like revenue was 5 percent ahead of last year due to the disposal of businesses, including Brandon Hire. Trading profit in the quarter of £30 million compared to £23 million in the same period last year, due exiting Ireland and reductions in the cost base.
In the Nordic region revenue increased by 1 percent and the like-for-like increase was 4 percent. Trading profit of £35 million was in line although last year's result included a one-off gain of £2 million relating to the disposal of property.
Revenue in France declined by 8 percent, although the business generated like-for-like growth of 2 percent. The building materials and import and wood solutions businesses generated like-for-like growth though the revenue trend in plumbing and heating remained negative. France overall broke even in the first quarter compared to a loss of £9 million last year, principally due to improvements in the cost base.
In Central Europe revenue was 10 percent lower than last year, 3 percent lower on a like-for-like basis. The region generated a trading profit of £12 million, compared to £6 million a year ago.