Commercial and industrial decline will spill into 2010.

Wolseley aims to sell up in EU

Published:  10 August, 2009

LEAMINGTON SPA: National merchant, Wolseley, is planning to sell its sites in Belgium, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, following a review of the company's central and eastern European division.

Steve Webster, the merchant's group finance director, also hinted that there could be further disposals among Wolseley's other European businesses.

"We have to continue to evaluate every one of these territories," he said. "It's not about having a European network for its own sake. It has to pay for itself.

"Profits for the company's Ferguson plumbing business were down about 35%. Acquired in 1982, Ferguson is claimed to be the merchant's major success story. It accounts for about a third of group revenue and was the only division to have recorded 'a significant operating profit over the six months to end-January'.

"Two-thirds of revenue at Ferguson is driven by the commercial and industrial sector," said Mr Webster. "That didn't start to decline until November or December of last year.

"We expect that to continue throughout this year and into 2010. For most of the next year it will be a difficult market," he said.

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