Builders merchanting and DIY group Grafton has said that 2012 was a year when all three of its divisions - merchanting, retailing and manufacturing - were profitable.
The company today reported pre-tax profits of €33.5m for the year to end of December, up from €10.3m the previous year.
Revenues for the year rose by 6% to €2.2 billion from €2.05 billion, while its underlying operating profit jumped 33% to €72.9m from €54.7m.
The company said the second interim dividend rose by 16% to 5.5 cent, which gives a total dividend for the year of 8.5 cent, up 13% on the 7.5 total dividend for 2011.
''The decision to increase the dividend is based on the board's progressive dividend policy driven by growth in underlying profit, cash flow generated from operations and balance sheet strength,'' the company said.
Grafton said its profits increase last year came on the back of its UK merchanting division outperforming in a weak market. But it said that profitability in its Irish retailing business was hit by weak retail spending and poor weather conditions in the first half of the year.
However, the second half of the year saw a recovery on the back of an easing in the pace of decline in revenue and lower overheads. The Irish manufacturing business was restructured and returned to profitability last year, it added.
See how the company's shares perfomed in Dublin here
Revenue in Grafton's merchanting division rose by 8% to €1.93 billion while operating profits - before restructuring costs - increased by 26.7% to €82.3m.
In its Irish merchanting branches, revenue fell by 8.5% to €280.8m while operating profits fell to €3.3m from €4.1m.
It noted that 2012 was the fifth year in a row to show a marked fall in investment in the housing sector with the decline for the year estimated at 16%. However, it said that some evidence of the Irish housing market starting to stabilise was seen during the year.
Grafton said that branch consolidations in Dublin, Cork and Limerick in 2011 and 2012 generated significant cost savings and those efficiencies offset much of the impact of the revenue decline.
''The Heiton Buckley and Chadwicks branch networks and the Cork Builders Providers, Telfords and Davies branches that have strong regional market positions responded well to challenging market conditions and increased market share,'' Grafton said in its results statement.
Grafton said that revenues at its retailing segment fell by 9.2% to €199.5m from €219.7m and operating profit declined to €0.3m from €2.1m as the downward trend in consumer spending continued due to a fall in disposable incomes, a weak labour market and a high savings rate.
It noted that turnover in the first half of the year at its Woodies DIY business fell sharply due to weaker retail spending and poor summer weather.
The group's Atlantic Home Care shops successfully left examinership during the year under a scheme of arrangement which saw the closure of two stores and deals with landlords to reduce rents to current open market levels.
The company said that the restructuring enabled the business to trade profitably in the second half of the year.
Turnover at Grafton's manufacturing segment fell by 10.4% to €42.6m and operating profits rose to €2m after a loss of €0.5m in 2011 after the division was restructured.
''The self-help measures implemented over the last two years have enabled Grafton to make significant progress in very challenging conditions,'' commented Grafton's chief executive Gavin Slark.
But he said the company remains cautious on the near term outlook due to uncertainties in the economies and markets in which it operates.
''We expect to make further progress in the year ahead by focusing on a new phase of measures to improve profitability,'' he added.