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Revenue at building gear firm Grafton climbs 12.8%

By Colm Kelpie

Building materials firm Grafton Group, which owns MacNaughton Blair here, recorded a surge in revenue of 12.8% in the year to the end of October, with group revenue reaching £2.11bn. Grafton, which also owns Irish DIY chain Woodies, said it had continued to generate good like-for-like growth across Ireland, benefiting from gains in employment, disposable incomes and a positive response from customers to the re-focusing of the business in recent years.

Analysts admitted that the recent performance of the group was "reassuring".

"While just one period, and admittedly in advance of the real volume and pricing challenges to come, its performance in the closely watched UK merchanting sector is better than we had expected," said Michael Mitchell, analyst at Davy Stockbrokers.

"It is also likely ahead of other peers in the sector. In that context, the strong performance of its other operations - most notably Ireland - is all the more apparent."

Like-for-like revenue increased modestly in the four months to the end of October in the UK merchanting business.

Gavin Slark, Grafton chief executive, said that the group had a "satisfactory" performance in the period, with development activity focused on expansion of the businesses Selco branch network across the UK.

"The Irish and Netherlands businesses performed well and are attractively positioned to benefit from a relatively early stage recovery in the economic cycle and underpin the benefits to the Group of exposure to multiple markets," he added.

Subsidiary MacNaughton Blair, which is based in Belfast, reported pre-tax profits of £5.3m in 2015, an increase of 69% from £3.1m a year earlier. Turnover was £83m, up 5%. The company employs approximately 250 people here.

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