Wolseley plans £350m special dividend

THE plumbing and building supplies group Wolseley posted a 10 per cent rise in full-year profits, underpinned by growth in its core US business.

The company is also proposing a special dividend of £350m.

Wolseley, which operates the Plumb Center and Ferguson chains in the UK and the US, said trading profit of its ongoing businesses for the year to July 31 was £658m, just below a company-compiled consensus of £662m.

“Wolseley continues to be highly cash generative and we have adequate resources to fund future investment in the business alongside growth in ordinary dividends,” chief executive Ian Meakins said, adding it was confident on progress in the year ahead.

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Group revenue rose 5.4 per cent to around £12.7bn, as 8 per cent like-for-like growth in its core US market helped ease the pain of struggling markets in Continental Europe, including France where the group is considering shutting its business.

Home building in the United States is expected to add to gross domestic product growth this year for the first time since 2005 as the house market continues its slow turnaround.

Wolseley’s UK business sales fell 1 per cent, while tough conditions in the Nordic region limited growth to just 1 percent. The firm said more cost cuts were planned there.

Shares in the FTSE 100 group, which proposed a final dividend of 40 pence, bringing the total for the year to 60p and 33 per cent ahead of last year, closed at 2,683 pence on Monday.

Wolseley employs around 360 staff at its site in Ripon, North Yorkshire.