Grafton planing move to London stock listing

The company, which yesterday reported a strong set of figures for the first half of the year, said it was consulting with shareholders but that it felt the time was right to look at its listing. 

The group, which owns Chadwicks, Heiton Buckley, and Woodie’s DIY, reported a huge increase of profits before tax, rising from €15.8m to €60.5m. Underlying profit before tax increased 28%, to €28.7m from €22.5m, as the company benefited from strong barbecue and garden furniture sales.

Grafton chief executive Gavin Slark said despite the possibility of a change in listing, the company remained committed to Ireland. “Whatever happens we still have 2,000 people working for us in Ireland and our commitment to Ireland remains absolute,” he said.

“London is one of the largest equity markets in the world; listing on the FTSE would allow new investors to take part in the Grafton story. The move would bring an increase in liquidity… and broaden the base of shareholders.”

The report showed that operating profit in Grafton’s Irish branches doubled to €1.8m but that revenue declined by 1% to €135.1m. Grafton reported the first period of growth since 2007, with revenue increasing by 1%.

Despite Grafton’s positive figures, Mr Slark was unwilling to call an overall recovery in either the economy or construction.

Mr Slark said Ireland’s main cities had performed well but that there were still areas with very low levels of activity.

“I am very cautious. We have had a good year but it is very easy to call the dawn of the recovery, we have to wait and see if it is sustainable,” he said.

Even in the UK, Mr Slark said the company was adopting a wait and see policy.

“In terms of the UK it has bumped along bottom for a long time. Its a little bit further down the road the Ireland,” Mr Slark added. Source:  The Irish Examiner