Wolseley is selling its Irish merchanting business including the 15-branch Brooks Group for €26.5m.

Wolseley has agreed to sell 100% of its shareholding in Wolseley Ireland Holdings Ltd to WIBHM Ltd, a private investor-backed company.

The disposal also includes Heat Merchants, Tubs and Tiles and Encon Ireland, as well as the Brooks business in Northern Ireland.

Dublin-based Brooks is the largest timber distributor and the third largest builders merchant in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Wolseley said it was disposing of the businesses to focus its activities where it had built sufficient scale, established leading market positions and “can deliver an appropriate financial return”.

In the year ended July 31 2009, the businesses had combined sales of €237m and underlying operating losses of €34m, while the assets were worth €75m. Wolseley expects to record a pre-tax loss on the disposal of €55m.

“It [the disposal] will enable us to bring an even greater degree of focus on driving improvement in our core UK businesses,” said Ian Meakins, Wolseley chief executive.