Irish-based builders merchant and DIY retailer Grafton Group made a pre-tax profit of £101m on revenues of £2.1 billion according to full year results published this morning.

Grafton, which reports in sterling as it is listed in the UK where the majority of its business takes place, said overall revenues were up 10% and profit up 55% as it benefited from economic recovery and a pick-up in building activity in both Ireland and the UK.

Gavin Slark, Grafton Group's chief executive, says that the most important - and enjoyable - thing for the company last year was seeing the recovery in the Irish market. Mr Slark says he was "delighted" to see the recovery in the Irish builders merchanting business which reported significantly improved revenues and profits. He added that the UK economy has been in recovery mode for the last couple of years and the market there now has moved beyond the early recovery bounce and has moved to a fairly predictable and stable growth pattern.  

The Grafton boss says it is very early to say whether the new Central Bank regulations on mortgage lending will have a significant impact on its business. He says that as Irish consumers gets confidence back in their own bank accounts, they do look to invest in their existing property. Ireland is a nation of home owners, he adds. As far as house building is concerned, Mr Slark says that there is a shortage of new houses in and around the Dublin area. While there is a lot of small projects going on at the moment, Grafton is looking forward to the return of large scale projects in Dublin and then moving out towards Cork, Galway and Limerick and spreading across the country.

Despite the economic recovery, trading conditions in the group's DIY operations - Woodies - remained subdued last year. The Grafton boss says the Woodies chain spent a lot of time last year trying to refocus on its core markets of DIY, home and garden. During the downturn, a number of different products were put into Woodies and Mr Slark said the company had to refocus on what Woodies was good at and what it was well known for in Ireland. He says the DIY market historically follows the RMI and house building market and as more houses start to be built, consumers will start to spend more money on their houses. 

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MORNING BRIEFS - Dalata listed on the Irish Stock Exchange last year to raise a war chest from which to buy hotels. It has spent the proceeds a year ahead of schedule and this morning, alongside its annual results, announced a seventh acquisition. It has bought the Belfast Holiday Inn for €25.6m. Dalata's full year results show a pre-tax profit of €4.2m on revenue of €79m - up 30% year-on-year.

*** The proportion of Irish consumers who say they are saving money either regularly or occasionally has fallen since the start of the year, according to the latest Nationwide UK (Ireland) Savings Index. In February 61% of respondents identified themselves as savers according to the monthly index, compiled by the building society and the ESRI, compared to 65% in January.

*** Over 25,000 bicycles are stolen in Ireland each year but Carlow company Cyc Lok has come up with a new system for locking bicycles which it is hoping to sell to local authorities and large companies. It involves a series of lockers which can only be unlocked with a one-off PIN code generated when cyclists deposit their bikes. Cyc Lok works with a mobile app through which users would be able to find available spaces near them and make payments using a debit or credit card.