Builders merchant increases profit to £132m as Irish acquisition performs beyond expectations.

Builders merchant and DIY group Grafton experienced a 32% profit rise over the last year, boosted by strong trading conditions in Ireland.

The group's pre-tax profit jumped from £100.4m in 2004 to £132.4m in the year ended 31 December 2005. Turnover rose from £1.28 bn to £1.8 bn over the same period.

The group's results were boosted by its strong performance in Ireland, where recent acquisition Heitons outperformed its pre-acquisition expectations. UK profit remained static, in the face of tough trading conditions.

Chairman Michael Chadwick said that the group expected to make further profit in 2006 as UK markets strengthened, and was looking to make further acquisitions during the year. He said: "In Ireland the market outlook continues to be strong, although conditions remain very competitive especially in the DIY sector. Recent economic data in the UK is encouraging with improving consumer confidence and a gradual recovery in the RMI market is forecast for the second half of 2006. The Group expects to benefit from a healthy pipeline of acquisition and organic growth opportunities."

Grafton also announced the appointment of Roderick Ryan as a non-executive director. Ryan's appointment will take effect immediately.