European distributor Wolseley plc reported total sales for the first half ended Jan. 31, 2013, of £6.3 billion (US$8.1 billion), a decrease of 8.3 percent from the first half of 2012. Like-for-like sales increased 2.2 percent. Total trading profit increased 4.5 percent to £324 million (US$416.9 million).
Revenue for Ferguson, Wolseley's U.S. business, was 8.3 percent ahead on a like-for-like basis, including price inflation of 1 percent. The RMI segment remained resilient and the recovery in levels of new construction continued. Major business units of Blended Branches, Waterworks and B2C continued to gain market share.
In Canada like-for-like revenue was 2.3 percent ahead including price inflation of 1 percent. The growth rate slowed in the second quarter as new residential construction volumes fell, though industrial infrastructure investment continued to grow in the regions.
Revenue in the ongoing UK business was flat in a declining market. The heating market was down substantially, but Wolseley reported improved market share. The impact of price inflation was negligible.
In the Nordic region like-for-like revenue was down 6.2 percent including 1 percent inflation, as construction markets and consumer sentiment weakened significantly across the region.
Revenue in France fell 10.4 percent on a like-for-like basis including approximately 1 percent inflation as conditions in the construction market deteriorated sharply.
In Central Europe like-for-like revenue was 1.2 percent ahead of last year with no significant price inflation. Switzerland and the Netherlands grew modestly and Austria was flat.
“We will invest in growth opportunities where they are available and maintain tight control of the cost base in Europe, whilst implementing the strategic proposals we have outlined in France,” Ian Meakins, chief executive, said.