Wolseley sales hit by Bathstore

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The Independent Online

Bathstore dragged down the UK performance of Wolseley last year, the builders' merchant said yesterday, as it posted a 15 per cent fall in sales.

Wolseley, the world's largest specialist distributor of plumbing and heating products, also took a £29m writedown on Bathstore, its last consumer-facing brand in UK, which it has been trying to sell.

Its chief executive, Ian Meakins, said the group was "conscious of what might be coming down the track" but added: "Overall, we feel in reasonable shape to tackle a downturn."

Pre-tax profits were £391m in the year to 31 July, against a loss of £328m a year ago, while revenues rose 3 per cent to £13.6bn. It is Wolseley's first annual profit since 2008.

The turnaround process has seen tens of thousands of job cuts, an emergency cash call and a swathe of businesses either closed or sold – including, most recently, Build Center in the UK.

The group has also switched its tax base to Switzerland.