Plumbing giant Ferguson announces plans to create separate UK business

Ferguson has provided an update on its plans for the City. Photo:  Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Ferguson has provided an update on its plans for the City. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
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Plumbing giant Ferguson has announced plans to break up and create a separate UK business, as it also confirmed the departure of its top boss.

The firm said that it will split off its UK operations as Wolseley UK, which has a base in Ripon, following a lengthy strategic review of the group.

The new business will be able to “focus exclusively on customers in the UK market”, while the remaining Ferguson business will primarily serve North America.

Ferguson said Wolseley UK will be an independently-listed business, adding that the board is considering the “most appropriate listing structure” for the group going forward.

Recently, the company’s UK division has struggled in difficult market conditions, posting lower revenues, as it axed branches and quit its unprofitable wholesale business.

Ferguson also confirmed on Tuesday that chief executive John Martin is set to leave the company on November 19 following nine years on the board.

Mr Martin has overseen the strengthening and simplification of the firm during his time, “substantially improving its market positions and generating excellent returns for shareholders”, the company said.

He will be replaced in the role by the current chief executive of Ferguson’s US operations, Kevin Murphy, who has been at the firm for 20 years.

John Martin, chief executive of Ferguson, said: “The demerger will enable both Wolseley UK and Ferguson to focus on accelerating the execution of their independent plans, providing clear investment propositions for each business.

“Wolseley UK has a strong market position, leading customer propositions and an experienced management team with significant opportunities for development in the large and fragmented plumbing, heating and infrastructure markets.

“Ferguson will continue to execute its successful strategy, building on a strong track record of profitable growth, market out-performance and generating attractive returns for shareholders.”

Gareth Davis, chairman of Ferguson, said: “John’s contribution to Ferguson over nearly 10 years has been outstanding, as is evident from the market-leading positions of our businesses, the strength of our management team and the excellent financial performance of the business over that period.

“He leaves the business in great shape and I would like to thank him for the significant contribution he has made to Ferguson.”

Mr Martin added: “I am also delighted that I will be succeeded by an executive as talented as Kevin Murphy, under whose leadership I am confident that the company will continue to go from strength to strength.”

Around 250 people are based in Wolseley’s Ripon support centre, according to its website.