U.K.-based plumbing distributor Wolseley, and Ferguson parent company, is considering selling Stock Building Supply, its building materials arm in the United States with roughly 300 branches.

Wolseley Chief Executive Chip Hornsby announced recently that he expects the new residential market to get worse before it gets better, and that "riding out the storm is not an option for us," according to Modern Distribution Management.

With cost-cutting at its end, Hornsby acknowledged that further large-scale reduction of Stock “will inevitably eat into the infrastructure of the business." According to recent reports, Stock lost about $227 million (USD).

Potential buyers are currently educated guesses. Private equity firms may see an attraction for Stock as a long-term investment opportunity. With credit markets as they stand, however, larger deals are not being favored.

MDM speculates that ProBuild Holdings is among the most likely acquirer for Stock, “as the relatively new holding company has been a surprisingly active acquirer in the space in the past two years, despite the residential housing downturn.” Recent ProBuild purchases include HD Supply's Lumber and Building Materials assets.

Hornsby says the company will announce more details and will possibly have a decision in November at its annual meeting.