Materials group suffers from slowdown in US housing market as pre-tax profit falls 14%

Materials group Wolseley has suffered a drop in profit after being hit by the continuing slowdown in the US housing market and a series of one-off costs.

In a trading statement issued ahead of its interim results, Wolseley said that group pre-tax profit for the five months ended 31 December 2006 was down 14% on the corresponding period the previous year. The group’s trading margin was also lower, primarily due to low margins in the UK and North America.

In its statement, the group said its fall in profit reflected one-off costs and a higher interest charge relating to the recent acquisition spend and increased interest rates. The group said it had also been affected by the continuing slowdown in the housing market and lower lumber prices in the US.

Group turnover increased 15% over the period. Wolseley UK had a turnover growth of 20%, but the firm said trading profit in the region was “only slightly up.”

Wolseley is due to publish interim results for the six months ending 31 January 2007 in March.