Grafton Gropup passes the €1bn mark

Grafton Group’s revenue passed €1 billion in the first six months of 2012, rising 4.6 per cent.

This morning, the group said underlying profit before tax, which excludes restructuring charges and amortisation, was 18.1 per cent higher at €23.8 million.

Gavin Slark, Chief Executive Officer commented:
“The Group continues to make good progress in markets that remain challenging and the outlook is still uncertain. The focus on self-help will continue to be at the forefront of our activities and the Group remains in a financially robust state.”Adjusted basic earnings per share rose 11.6 per cent to 8.1 cent.

A fall in revenue in the Irish merchanting business was offset in part by a series of cost-cutting measures that helped stem a fall-off in operating profit. However, the retailing business was hit by shrinking consumer spending.

In the UK, Graftoncommented that its merchanting business put in a strong performance, despite a recession that hit volumes in the residential repair, maintenance and improvement market.

Grafton’s UK business accounts for 76 per cent of revenue, up from 72 per cent in 2011.

“Although we still see the outlook as a little bit uncertain and it’s still a bit challenging, there is certainly more stability in the UK market than there was this time last year,” chief executive Gavin Slark said. “There is still a degree of uncertainty, as there is right across Europe and I think the UK is included in that.”

Cash flow from operations rose to €54.8 million, from €46.2 million a year earlier.

“The group ended the half-year in a strong financial position with good liquidity and lower net debt that is refinanced out to 2016,” Grafton said.

Interim dividends were increased by 9 per cent to 3.0 cent for the period.