Continental acquisitions look good for merchants

Published:  14 September, 2011

DUBLIN: The stalled market in Ireland and in the UK makes continental acquisitions attractive proposition for merchants.

Builders' merchant Grafton could be looking to break new ground to expand following the success of its Belgian acquisition.

Britain accounts for more than 70% of sales and a larger share of profits and earnings than the struggling Irish market. Grafton's Belgian business, IMC Groep NV, in which it has a 53%, contributed Û10.8m to sales. That operation now has seven branches and an annual turnover of Û50m.

Recently appointed chief executive Gavin Slark seems keen to go this route, but he did make it clear last month that there would have to be a compelling case for any purchase made in the current climate but he said the Belgian venture could help point the way forward.

Mr Slark says that it gives the group a chance to dip its toes in a different market, without having to take a plunge.

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