Wolseley plc has recorded a 31.2% rise in annual pre-tax profits to £559.1m, with its UK merchanting business holding up well thanks to a strong repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) market.

The company, which owns the Build Center chain incorporating specialist timber branches, also saw its group sales soar 23.3% to £10.1bn for the year ended July 31. The growth was partly due to commodity price rises, particularly a 32% boost to timber and structural panel prices in the US.

Its UK sales grew by 11.5% to £2.1bn, as the strength of the economy and housing markets continued, with the building materials division experiencing a good second half of the year. The thriving RMI sector was buoyed by consumer demand against the backdrop of historically low interest rates, low unemployment and house price inflation.

Organic growth in the UK was 6.3%, with 97 new locations added during the year, taking the total number of branches (including Ireland) to 1,513. This does not include Wolseley’s recent £120m acquisition of the 18-branch Irish merchant Brooks Group Ltd.