A stabilised Irish DIY market has seen a revival in the fortunes of the Woodie's chain, and helped parent company Grafton Group deliver an 8% annual rise in revenue.
Reporting its results for the year to December 31 2013 today, the group said revenue rose from £1.7bn in 2012 to £1.9bn last year.
The builders merchant and DIY group, which has operations across Ireland, Belgium and the UK, attributed the increase in revenue to new branches and acquisitions.
Other highlights for the group included the strong performance of its merchanting businesses in the UK, which saw an increase in operating profit of 20% to £76m from £63m in 2012. This performance benefited from self-help measures adopted in recent years and expansion of the branch network.
The Irish retail arm of the group, Woodie's, has experienced declining sales for the last five years, but 2013 saw a turnaround for the business, which makes up 9% of the group's revenue. In 2013 Woodie's revenue increased by 4% from £161m in 2012 to £168m.
Operating profits for Woodie's rose from £0.2m to £1m. This rise was credited to a restructuring of the business, including the closure of two stores and lower rents in 10.
During the last year Woodie's updated its website to increase the amount of products available, upgraded three stores and carried out a successful trial of a range of kitchens in three stores.
Grafton Group said the DIY market was drastically affected by the severe weather conditions in March and April which impacted on sales of outdoor products. However, the latter half of 2013 improved dramatically and sustained periods of good weather in May, June and July saw a strong demand for products such as barbecues, lawnmowers and garden furniture.
Overall underlying operating profit for the Grafton Group rose from £61m to £77m in 2013 - an increase of 27%.The group also saw its pre-tax profit rise from £48m to £65m, up 35% and its operating margin increase by 60 basis points to 4.1% from 3.5% in the previous year.
Commenting on the final results for 2013, Gavin Slark, ceo of Grafton Group, said the group is making good progress in markets that are still challenging for the company.
He added: "Grafton continues to develop a balanced growth strategy combining both organic growth and acquisitive growth where appropriate. Trading in the current year has been encouraging and, while we expect recovery in our markets to be gradual, the Group is confident of building on its strong 2013 performance in 2014."
Looking to the year ahead Grafton Group expects the Irish economy to improve moderately and says that the outlook is more favourable than it has been for some time.