Grafton Group, which runs the Buildbase chain, said its sales continued to improve in the second half of 2009.

In a trading update, Grafton said its turnover for last year was €1.98bn, down 26% on 2008.

The company said trading conditions remained challenging but “green shoots” were evident, including increases in mortgage lending, housing transactions, housebuilding and house prices.

Group like-for-like sales per working day were down 7% in the second half compared to 2008, an improvement of an 18% reverse in the first half.

“While the group is cautious about the outlook for 2010 it will benefit from the cost reduction and integration programme implemented over the last 18 months,” Grafton said.