Builders merchant Grafton Group has reported a £47m rise in its profit after tax for the first half of the year, up 31% on the same period of 2014.

The Dublin-headquartered firm, which also owns DIY chain Woodie's, saw its revenue rise by 7% to more than £1.08 billion during the six months.

In Ireland, it said, its builders merchant business reported a significant increase in revenue and profit as the pace of growth in the construction market accelerated. 

Increased spending by consumers on home maintenance and improvements was also a key driver of growth during the period.

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However the firm’s British business accounts for the vast majority of its revenue, with its merchant operation there bringing in £816.7m during the six months – up 9.6% year-on-year.

Grafton Group said the economic backdrop in Britain was broadly positive, as household spending and consumer confidence increased.

The company has hiked its dividend by 20%, which it said was a gesture of confidence reflective of its strong performance and a sound financial position.