UK building materials group Wolseley has said its Irish business made a £20m (€23m) loss in the 11 months to the end of June. In Ireland, Wolseley owns the plumbing, heating and builders supply stores Heat Merchants, Tubs and Tiles and Brooks.

In a trading update, the company said the Irish construction market remained 'severely depressed', with new housing activity around 70% down compared with the same period a year earlier.

Wolseley said the Irish market was unlikely to return to the levels of activity in the previous decade and it was continuing to adjust its cost base to reflect this.

Earlier this year, Wolseley said it would lay off 180 people nationwide and close four stores around the country.

Revenue from its businesses in the UK and Ireland is 15% down from a year earlier.

Overall, the group's revenue for the 11 months is down 16%, while pre-tax profit before once-off items is down 60%. Wolseley said trading conditions in its markets would continue to deteriorate, and would remain tough until at least the end of 2009.