Grafton Group plc, the builders’ merchanting and DIY Group with operations in the UK, Ireland and Belgium has issued its trading update for the period 1 January 2017 to 30 April 2017.

The Group had a good start to the year with a continuation of the favourable trading conditions experienced in the final quarter of 2016 and the benefit of exposure to multiple markets. Group revenue increased by 7.7% to £851m.

The traditional UK merchanting businesses reported solid growth in like-for-like revenue against strong prior year comparatives. The business benefited from measures to improve profitability including the restructuring plan implemented in the last quarter of 2016.

Selco experienced a good level of demand in its established branch network. The seven branches that were opened last year traded in line with expectation and market coverage was improved in Greater London with the opening of branches in Beckton and Crayford. Selco will open its 50th branch later this month in Guildford, Surrey and remains on track to open at least 10 new branches this year.

The Group's merchanting business in Ireland continued to outperform in a strong market, with the recovery in construction activity broadly based with positive demand trends in both residential and non-residential markets.

The Netherlands merchanting business continued to grow like-for-like revenue against the backdrop of a recovery in the Dutch economy and favourable conditions in the housing market. The acquisition of the 14 branch Gunters en Meuser business in January 2017 has provided a strong presence in the Greater Amsterdam area and a small single branch business located in the eastern region of the Netherlands has also been acquired.

Like-for-like revenue was lower in the Belgium merchanting business due to the reorientation of the customer base towards a lower volume, higher margin customer model.

Gavin Slark, chief executive officer of Grafton Group plc, said: “The Group has had a good start to the year and the outlook is positive. We expect a continuation of the favourable trends in the Irish and Netherlands businesses.

“In view of recent economic and political developments, we are more cautious about the prospects for the UK however we have a good portfolio of businesses with strong market positions and we look to the future with confidence.”