Selco and Woodies owner Grafton notes softer demand in merchant sector

International builders merchanting and DIY group Grafton saw mixed results in Q3, with an encouraging start turning to softer activity later in the quarter.

Grafton – owner of Selco, Woodies, Polvo, Buildbase and others – saw like-for-like revenue up 0.9% with total revenue increased 4.5%.

The group noted “weak underlying demand fundamentals” in terms of UK merchanting business volumes, thanks for deferred discretionary spending on home improvement projects against the “backdrop of increased economic uncertainty”.

The Irish side of the business benefited from a positive economy, but a “cautious international outlook” slowed demand.

Also of interest to the construction sector, Grafton noted a court ruling on nitrogen emissions has dampened demand in the merchanting sector in the Netherlands, with the delay of grants of permits for new construction projects.

Grafton’s sold its Belgian merchanting business and the UK’s Plumbase business in the quarter.                                

Recent trading conditions are more reflective of market sentiment than business fundamentals,” said Grafton Group CEO Gavin Slark. “Grafton remains well placed to continue to benefit from our strong market positions in Ireland and the Netherlands and from a recovery in the UK merchanting market. The Group continues to focus on optimising trading opportunities in its markets, on cost control and cash generation and has a strong balance sheet to support value enhancing acquisition opportunities.”