Net debt down by a quarter as chairman vows to focus on cost control

Plumbers and builders merchant, Grafton Group, announced a profit fall of 78% in its preliminary end of year statement for 2008; the €235.8m in 2007 fell to €64.1m this year. Demand slowed mid-year, the firm said, although energy-saving materials were sought after.

Revenue was from €3.21bn to € 2.67bn over the year, a fall of 16.6%.

Financial managers highlighted net debt reduction for the Anglo-Irish firm based in the UK. This was down by around a quarter from €435.6m to €114.8m. The firm was 50% geared with cash flow and a cash balance of €225m.

Executive chairman, Michael Chadwick, vowed to keep the balance sheet as strong as possible: “In the current year, we will maintain our focus on cost control, operational efficiencies and cash generation and implement deeper cuts to overheads where demand continues to contract.”

The firm blamed constant currency volatility for 8% of its decline in turnover and the heavy snow in January and February for adding salt to the wound of “difficult economic circumstances.”