Grafton Group’s UK merchanting business significantly improved its profits in the third quarter, the company said in an interim management statement.

The Group said the division, which includes the Buildbase, Jackson Building Centres, Selco and Macnaughton Blair chains, was continuing to improve its profitability into the fourth quarter.

UK merchanting sales for the year to the end of October are up 6% on a year ago.

In contrast, Irish merchanting sales continued to fall, though the rate of decline has slowed.

Group turnover to the end of October was €1.70bn (2009: €1.69bn), with third quarter sales of €546m representing the largest quarterly sales in 2010.

“A good base has been established from which renewed growth in earnings can be generated over the coming years as market conditions normalise,” it said.