Grafton upbeat over recovery in UK market
Grafton Group chief executive Gavin Slark said there are "encouraging signs" that the recent recovery under way in its principal markets, primarily the UK, now appears to have "more substantive foundations".
In a trading statement, Grafton said that its group turnover rose 8pc last year to £1.9bn (€2.3bn), aided by improved performances across its businesses.
Grafton, which owns the Woodies DIY and Atlantic Homecare chains in Ireland, generates the bulk of its revenue and profits in the UK, where it has a large number of builders' merchanting outlets.
"Activity levels benefited from an improvement in economic conditions as the year developed and trading in the final months of the year provided further evidence that the recovery in the group's markets has started to take hold," it said.
Average daily like-for-like sales in its UK merchanting business rose 3.2pc last year, while at its Irish operation the figure was up 3.6pc. The return to volume growth in the UK was the first time in five years that positive activity had been recorded.
At its Irish retail business average daily like-for-like sales climbed 1.5pc in 2013. Grafton said spending by consumers at Woodies had shown modest growth in recent months.
The group's shares fell in London where it is listed.