* Q1 trading profit up 7.6 pct to 198 mln stg
* U.S. growth offsets weaker Europe
LONDON Dec 4 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
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