Ian Meakins, Chief Executive commented, “This was a good first half performance, driven principally by resilient RMI markets and the considerable attention that we have paid to improving customer service, protecting gross margins and controlling costs.
Construction markets have now broadly stabilised in most of our geographies, particularly the new residential and RMI segments in the USA.
The overall macro-economic environment in several regions continues to be fragile and pricing competition remains intense. The impact of recent VAT increases and government spending cuts leaves the outlook in the UK more uncertain.
Revenue increased by 5% on a like-for-like basis.
Gross margin was 0.2% higher than last year at 27.7% despite challenging conditions.
Trading profit of £275 million was 64% ahead of last year.
Good cash generation with adjusted net debt reduced by £262 million since 31 July 2010.
Dividend reinstated – interim dividend declared of 15 pence per share.
We continue to maintain our emphasis on protecting market share and gross margins while keeping a tight control on the cost base to maximise operating leverage. The Group expects to continue to grow in the second half of the year, though the comparatives will now be much more demanding. The reinstatement of the dividend reflects the strength of our balance sheet and our confidence in the future trading prospects of the Group.”