Gavin Slark more acquisitions for Grafton, but there's no hurry.

No shopping spree for Grafton

Published:  13 December, 2012

DUBLIN: Grafton Group plans more acquisitions, but chief executive Gavin Slark said there is "no panic" for the company to buy. Finding value was key for the group Mr Slark stated to journalists yesterday.

"We are looking at different European territories," he said. "But the Grafton Group has worked very hard since 2007 to keep a very strong financial base and the one thing that we're not going to do is make any rash decisions that will fundamentally weaken that.

"Although we are able to invest and are willing to invest, we will only do it if we believe we can find real value."

The company generates about 75% of its euro 2bn annual revenue in the UK, and the bulk of the remainder in Ireland where it operates Heiton Buckley and Chadwicks Builders' Merchants as well as the Woodies and Atlantic Homecare DIY chains.

It also has a small presence in Poland and Belgium "We have been able to find real value in Belgium," he said.

"There are other European territories that we would be interested in expanding into, predominantly in western Europe, but there's no panic for us to do it. There's plenty that we can do to improve the business we have."

The UK is the primary focus for acquisitions, he said. "About a third of the UK market is still with independently-owned builders' merchants.

"We still see significant opportunity for us to improve our market share in the UK. It has to be driven by improving market share in profitable businesses. There's no desire for us just to have higher turnover. It's got to be driven by profit and it's got to be driven by cash.

"You can't build a long-term business plan for a group just waiting for an Irish recovery," said Mr Slark. "There's a lot of focus on what we're doing in the UK and improving profitability there."

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