Building materials group Kingspan has seen a strong start to the year, which it said reflected a continuation of the positive trading pattern seen in the second half of last year, particularly in its key UK and North American markets.

In an interim management statement, Kingspan also said that its underlying group profitability has been strong so far this year.

The Co-Cavan-based company said that its group sales of €719m in the first four months of the year were up 28% compared to the same time last year.

It added that its profitability is being complimented further by favourable currency factors including both the euro sterling and euro dollar rate.

Kingspan said the exchange rates are "significantly" better than the average rates of the last ten years.

Looking at its markets around the world, Kingspan said that the UK is trading well, Germany is solid and Eastern Europe remains relatively subdued and the Benelux region is demonstrating some level of positivity, albeit from a low base. 

The company said its North American sales have been strong so far this year, driven by penetration growth. The GCC region is trading well with Australia relatively flat year on year.

Looking ahead, Kingspan said its order backlog points towards a strong first half of the year for the business, driven mainly by a continued promising performance in the UK and US in particular. This will be partly offset by a "flat" Europe and impending weakness in Canada and Australia.

"The trading result is also likely to benefit from favourable exchange translation in addition to an untypically positive input environment, which will ebb and flow over time," the company added in its trading update.

"The combination of recent development activity, growing conversion, a strong innovation pipeline and the increasing emphasis worldwide on energy efficiency, leave us confident about Kingspan’s longer term future," it concluded.

Kingspan shares closed 1.6% higher in Dublin trade following the results.