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Wolseley Embarks on Significant Transformation

New CEO, company name highlight big changes for UK distributor.
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Halfway through its fiscal year, Wolseley plc is facing a host of changes, including a rebrand, new CEO and divestment of one of its regional businesses, the company announced this week when reporting earnings for the first six months.

The plumbing and heating distributor will change its name to Ferguson plc, a nod to the "most significant brand in the Wolseley Group of companies" and the division that accounts for 84 percent of the company's profitability.

“We are proud to have the Wolseley Group adopt the Ferguson name. We have built a very strong brand over the last 64 years and are known for our performance reputation,” said Ferguson Enterprises CEO Frank Roach. “The Ferguson name best represents the group today and will help create greater shareholder interest in the U.S."

Roach, who is retiring July 31, played a significant role in the brand-building over four decades. In the past six years, he led the company through the acquisition of 40 companies that added $1.3 billion of revenue. Roach, who is being replaced by COO Kevin Murphy, spoke with MDM last year about some of those acquisitions.

The U.S. business will continue to operate as Ferguson Enterprises Inc.

Roach's departure isn't the only leadership change. The company also appointed a new CFO earlier this month following Dave Keltner's announced retirement.

In addition to a change in name and a change at the top, Wolseley said it will "exit" its Nordic business and focus resources elsewhere.

"There are few synergies with the rest of the group’s plumbing and heating businesses, and we have initiated a process to exit our business in the region," the company said in its earnings press release. "We have excellent opportunities to generate attractive returns in our other businesses and we will focus resources there in the future."

Wolseley is also in the process of divesting a noncore U.S. business that contributed £168 million (US$208 million) during fiscal year 2016.

But growth is also a focus of Wolseley's changes. The company has invested in two new ship hubs – one in Houston and one in San Francisco. "And we just committed to a large, new pipe facility next door to our DC in Celina, OH," CEO John Martin told investors.

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