Meyer focuses on specialist centres

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The Independent Online
MEYER International, owner of the Jewson chain of builders' merchants, is opening more specialist centres for services such as tool hire, roofing and bathrooms, writes Heather Connon.

It is also testing a number of new branch styles in urban areas, where it has traditionally had a low market share. John Dobby, chief executive, said that with 191 branches there was limited scope for Jewson to expand by opening new outlets. 'We are looking for ways of intensifying the use of our existing space,' he added.

The group opened tool hire centres at 19 branches in the year to March, bringing the total to 57, and converted some stores to specialist centres. It has also conducted research in urban areas, including London, and is opening pilot sites to assess the results.

Meyer announced profit before tax of pounds 41.6m in the year to March, almost three times the pounds 14.4m earned the previous year, on sales 9.6 per cent ahead at pounds 1.2bn. Jewson's contribution rose from pounds 11.6m to pounds 20.7m while its sales increased by 7.9 per cent to pounds 425.1m.

Mr Dobby said the rises reflected an improvement in margins as sales volumes rose. Group operating margin was 4.2 per cent, up from 3 per cent.

Earnings per share were 24p, up from 10.1p, and the final dividend was increased from 5.6p to 6.6p to give a 10.8p (9.6p) total. The shares gained 18p to 453p.

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