BUILDING products distributor SIG’s group sales for the first four months of the year were just ahead last year’s figures, despite severe weather conditions in the UK and Europe.
The Sheffield-based group, which is holding its annual general meeting today, said in an interim management statement that severe winter conditions across mainland Europe in February and the wettest April on record in the UK resulted in reduced activity in the outside building trades, particularly affecting sales in the group’s roofing business.
Group sales per day in constant currency for the first four months of 2012 were just under 1 per cent ahead of the same period last year. But the company said that as a result of the weakening euro, total group sales in sterling during the period fell by slightly less than 1 per cent.
The overall gross margin has shown some improvement compared with the same period in 2011, although markets remain highly competitive, said the group.
In mainland Europe, the group said sales per day on a constant currency basis grew by around 3 per cent, with France and Benelux performing particularly well, and Germany marginally ahead of last year.
It said: “With two extra trading days in the UK compared with prior year and one additional day in Ireland, total sales in UK & Ireland were broadly flat. On a sales per day basis, UK turnover was c.1 per cent down, mainly due to a disappointing weather-related performance in the exteriors division in April.
“Sales in Ireland, which represents c.2 per cent of the group’s total turnover, were significantly lower than prior year.”
SIG has opened 10 new branches so far this year, of which three were in the UK, three in Germany and four in France.
The group expects market volumes to be slightly down overall in 2012, “with demand patterns during the year likely to be uneven and not helped by the continuing wet weather in early May”.
It added: “Although the macroeconomic environment and exchange rates remain uncertain, SIG has a solid platform on which to build and is continuing to target further market outperformance this year.”