Grafton sees sales slide

Published:  14 May, 2009

DUBLIN: Irish building supplies group, Grafton, expects 2009 revenues to fall 24% amid what it described as "the most challenging trading conditions in decades". The company said the trading environment this year was much weaker than the first four months of 2008, due to the reduced availability of credit, decline in housing starts and completions, and fall in the value of sterling against the euro.

Grafton suffered a 22% dip in first-quarter sales.<

Executive chairman Michael Chadwick said market expectations of 2.02bn euro sales for the year – down from 2.67bn euros in 2008 – were reasonable.

"The market in Ireland so far this year is tougher than we expected and tougher than the analysts were expecting," Mr Chadiwck stated.

The owner of builders' and plumbers' merchants in the UK and Ireland said turnover to March 31 was 470m euros, down 220m million euros, or 32% on the first quarter of 2008, and by 22% constant currency terms.

Grafton, which owns Buildbase in the UK and Heiton Buckley builders' merchants in Ireland, said it expected to benefit "from seasonally stronger trading in the second half of the year", with savings of up to 55m euros in 2009.

The group shed around 1500 staff last year.

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