Firm says the UK is the most ’concerning’ market

Wolseley has warned of a slowdown in the UK in the second half of this year, blaming the new year increase in VAT and government spending cuts.

Speaking after posting a 5% growth in revenue for the six months to 31 January 2011, chief executive Ian Meakins said that the UK was the most “concerning” market.

“Our concern in terms of markets would be the UK, and the VAT rise would have some impact, so we are expecting a slowdown in the second half,” he told journalists and analysts in a conference call on Tuesday.

Compared with the group’s 5% overall growth, revenues in the UK dropped 1% in the period.

The firm transformed a £261m loss in the same half year in 2010 to a £195m profit in its latest results. It announced it had also reinstated its dividend.

Speaking about Wolseley’s global operations, Meakins said: “New build is coming back in residential and commercial.”

There had been speculation that the firm would return its HQ to the UK after the chancellor announced a 2% cut in corporation tax in the Budget. Wolseley moved to Switzerland last October, saving £20m of tax, but says it is reserving judgment until it has more detail on the changes.