Bad weather took a heavy toll on the retail side of Grafton Group's operations in the first half of the year, the business revealed in a trading update today.
The builders merchants and DIY group, with operations in the UK, Ireland and Belgium, grew overall turnover to €1.05bn in the six months to June 30 2012, an increase of 4% on the €1.01bn achieved in the same period last year.
However, turnover was down by around 12.5% in the Irish retailing business, which incorporates the largest DIY retailing operation in Ireland, trading nationally from 41 stores mainly under the Woodie's DIY brand, and an eight-store kitchen business under the In-House and Panelling Centre brands.
The group said the adverse weather conditions in April and June had hit demand for gardening products hard. Trading was also affected by weak consumer spending due to pressure on disposable incomes.
Despite that, it said the business's operating performance was satisfactory given the demanding market conditions, primarily as a result of internal initiatives taken to counteract what it called "the backdrop of cyclically low levels of activity in its markets".
Like-for-like turnover in Grafton's UK merchanting business - which accounted for 74% of group turnover - increased by 1.4% in the half year. The business delivered a good improvement in turnover in the first quarter but, again, trading in the second quarter suffered from record levels of rainfall from April to June.
The Buildbase and Plumbase operations both put in an improved performance, Selco continued to develop its market position and Macnaughton Blair enjoyed a recovery in volumes in its general merchanting business.
However, turnover in the Irish merchanting business was down by some 9%.