Builders merchant and DIY group Grafton generated record revenue of £2.7 billion last year, an increase of 9% on 2016.

Grafton, which owns the Woodies DIY retail chain as well as its builders merchant business in Ireland and the UK, posted a 35% increase in pre-tax profit to €154.5m.

The company’s operating profit rose by 15% to £163.7m and it said it was proposing a total dividend for the year of 15.50 pence, up 13% on the previous year.

Chief executive Gavin Slark said 2017 had been a very good year for the company as it reported growth across all its divisions.

“Our expectations are positive for the current year and we remain confident about the potential to take advantage of opportunities that create value for shareholders,” Mr Slark added.

Grafton said that its merchanting business in Ireland saw double digit revenue growth and a strong increase in profitability for the fourth year in a row. Revenues for 2017 rose by 8.9% to £403m while operating profits increased by 23.3% to £45.5m.

Revenues at its Woodies DIY chain rose by 74% to £180.4m, while operating profits soared by 44.3% to £11.2m as it expanded its market position and was boosted by a “favourable” economy.

Grafton said its UK merchanting business made good progress and saw operating profit exceed £100m as it benefited from the restructuring undertaken in 2016.

But it said that overall conditions in the UK merchanting market are likely to remain “relatively flat”.

Activity levels in the UK housing RMI market are also expected to remain subdued and are sensitive to changes in housing transactions and consumer confidence and spending.

RTE News