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FTSE 100 Firm Wolseley Reports Drop In UK Sales, But Is Boosted By US And Canada

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A slight dip in UK sales was offset by those in the US for UK plumbing firm Wolseley
A slight dip in UK sales was offset by those in the US for UK plumbing firm Wolseley

FTSE 100 plumbing supplier Wolseley saw a 0.3% drop in UK sales in the last quarter, but was saved by stronger sales figures in the US and Canada.

The US saw a 7.1% increase in like-for-like sales, while Canada grew 3.1%, but northern European sales were poor, with France witnessing a 8.2% decline, and the Nordic region suffering a 4.8% fall. Central Europe, however, enjoyed a 1.3% rise.

Overall the group drove sales 2.1%. Trading profit increased from £185m in the first quarter last year to £198m this year.

"Wolseley has continued to generate good growth in the USA and Canada," said chief executive Ian Meakins in a statement. "Revenue has declined in Continental Europe as a result of continuing tough market conditions, particularly in the Nordics and France, and unfavourable currency movements."

Meakins also put the broadly successful quarter's results down to improvements to customer service.

"Cash generation is a key focus and the strength of our balance sheet provides opportunities to invest selectively where we can generate good returns," he concluded.

Last month, Wolseley announced it would aim to reduce carbon emissions from energy consumption by 30% over the next three years, as part of its new environmental policy for sustainable development.

In order to achieve this, Wolseley UK has pledged to monitor and manage environmental performance at all levels of the business, particularly in areas of energy and waste.

A range of other initiatives are also being considered, such as the installation of solar photovoltaic technology and LED lighting across its estate.

In 2011, Wolseley UK was awarded the Carbon Trust Standard for cutting the carbon footprint of all of its UK operations, including all subsidiaries, according to a report in Environmental Leader.

The company was certified for reducing carbon emissions by nearly 18% over a one-year period between 1 August, 2009 and 31 July, 2010.

Wolseley met those targets by focusing on waste, energy and transport. For example, the company introduced a backhauling process where clear plastic, cardboard and pallets are transported to larger sites for consolidation and recycling, which reduces waste sent to landfill. The company also rolled out the installation of smart meters across all of its branches to more accurately monitor and save energy.

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Filed by Charlie Thomas