The strong performance of Timber Center has contributed to ‘outstanding’ half-yearly results for Wolseley, the international merchanting group.

Sales and operating profits for Wolseley’s UK business, which includes the Builder Center and Plumb Center chains, increased by 13% and 15.7% respectively in the half-year ending January 31.

Adrian Barden, managing director of Wolseley’s UK heavyside division, said: ‘Timber Center is probably one of the fastest developing parts of the Wolseley group.’

He said television home improvement programmes are helping fuel the Repair Maintenance and Improvement (RMI) market but the real volume timber is being sold for new housing.

Mr Barden said the roll out of new Timber Center stores will continue through acquisition and building on greenfield sites. Timber Center, currently totalling 30 branches, nearly doubled in size last summer with the acquisition of 13 RK timber branches

Total turnover for Wolseley’s timber business, including Builder Center and Carolina Holdings of the US, was about £1bn.

Wolseley said the RMI market remained firm throughout the period on the back of lower interest rates and strong consumer demand, underpinned by increased government spending.

Pre-tax profit for the whole group, two-thirds of which is US-based, increased by 17% to £195.9m.