UPDATE 1-North American growth props up Wolseley

Tue Dec 4, 2012 3:07am EST

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* Q1 trading profit up 7.6 pct to 198 mln stg

* U.S. growth offsets weaker Europe

LONDON Dec 4 (Reuters) - Plumbing and building supplies group Wolseley PLC continued its strong growth in North America in the first quarter, posting a 7.6 percent rise in profit as it grew market share.

The company, which generates more than half its revenue in the U.S., said trading profit rose to 198 million pounds ($318.71 million) from 185 million pounds in the period last year.

Wolseley has benefited from the housing market in the U.S., which has continued to show signs of growth this year, building on its relative strength since the 2007-2009 recession.

Sharp falls in like-for-like revenue of 8.2 percent in France and 4.8 percent in the Nordic countries dented the plumbing merchant's firmer performances in the U.S. and Canada.

It said that a strategic review of the group's struggling French arm is ongoing, after the business posted its third consecutive quarter of revenue shrinkage.

In the UK, where Wolseley agreed to acquire 22 sites from drainage supplier Burdens Limited earlier in November, revenue was 428 million pounds, down 0.3 percent like-for-like on the same period last year.

The group continues to rebalance the business towards its strongest markets, with headcount since July up 80 in the U.S. and down 433 in the Nordics.

Shares in Wolseley were down 0.9 percent at 2,839 pence in early trading, making the company one of the top FTSE 100 losers.

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