Sales for the Wolseley group of businesses, based in Reading, England, for the first five months ended Dec. 31, 2005, were up about 25%, and profit rose by about 20%, compared with the same period in 2004. These increases were driven by high rates of organic growth in North America and recent acquisitions, the company said.Housing-related activity in the United States has been strong. The repair and remodeling market has benefited from the positive economic environment, the company said. Meanwhile, the commercial and industrial sectors continue to improve.

The U.S. plumbing operations achieved a sales increase of more than 35% in local currency and profit rose by about 30% for the five months vs. that period in 2004. The slightly lower trading margin is in line with internal targets and reflects the absence of commodity price gains, the management focus on achieving strong organic growth in selected markets and the decision to continue to increase the investment in people, logistics and new branch openings, Wolseley said.

The construction and housing markets remain strong in Canada. Wolseley Canada achieved a double-digit increase in sales and trading profit was very slightly down compared to the equivalent period in the prior year, resulting from the company's ongoing investment in people and regional supply centers.

“Market conditions in North America are expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future,” Steve Webster, finance director, said in a statement. “The group is well positioned for further growth in the second half.”