Consumer caution in the UK likely to slow growth at home, says chairman.

Wolseley plc, the plumbing and heating products distributor, says that it expects performance in the USA to be one of the largest factors in its progress in the current financial year. Chairman John Whybrow said that a strong housing market, and the improving industrial and commercial sectors in the States had led to “an excellent start to the year.”

Looking closer to home, Whybrow said that while the UK business was outperforming the market, “in view of continued consumer caution, the year is likely to prove more challenging than the prior year.” He said that there would be continued benefits from government spending in social housing, health and education.

So far this financial year the group has invested £418m to make 15 acquisitions, which it expects to add more than £670m to group turnover in 12 months.

Whybrow said: “The group will continue to pursue its objective of achieving, on average, double-digit sales and profit improvements through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions, in new and existing countries.”

Wolseley currently employs 60,000 people in 14 countries, with sales of £11.3bn for the year ending 31 July 2005.