The chief executive of Wolseley remains upbeat about the UK plumbing and heating market, although it had been quiet over the past 12 months.

Chip Hornsby, who officially took over last month, said the outlook in the UK was positive.

He said: “We feel the British market is flat but we’re beginning to see some improvements. I think as we get closer to the Olympics we will see this continue.”

This week Wolseley reported a 15% rise in pre-tax profit to £789m. Turnover rose 26% to £14.1bn for the 12 months to 31 July. Turnover at the group’s UK and Ireland arm rose 14% to £2.7bn and 11% to £2.5bn at Wolseley’s European operation. It is here that Hornsby sees the biggest potential for growth.

“We are so small in Europe that there are plenty of opportunities for us,” he said. The firm has bought Denmark’s DT Group for £1.4bn.

Further acquisitions are expected this week, as it placed 59.5 million shares to pay off debt and fund acquisitions.