Wolseley unveils new name
Ferguson’s parent company Wolseley plc, the world’s largest distributor of plumbing and heating products to professional contractors, announced 9.9% sales growth in the first half of the year.
The company is also adopting the new name “Ferguson plc” — its largest brand — and announced the upcoming retirement of Ferguson CEO Frank Roach.
Ferguson reported sales growth of 9.9%, increasing its revenue 5.4% in existing stores. Acquisitions contributed 2.5% of additional revenue growth, with remaining growth from new locations and two additional sales days this year. The company’s trading margin was 7.8%, and trading profit was 9.1% ahead of last year.
Ferguson grew market share in all of its major businesses. residential and commercial markets, both new construction and renovation, maintenance and improvement, experienced steady growth in the first half.
Blended branches (locations serving both residential and commercial customers) continued to generate good growth from a combination of growing markets and market share gains. The B2C e-commerce business grew strongly. Fire and Fabrication, HVAC and Commercial MRO generated good growth with Waterworks growing more modestly in flat markets. Six acquisitions were completed in the first-half of fiscal year 2017.
The move to the name “Ferguson plc” is subject to shareholder approval. Ferguson is the most significant brand in the Wolseley Group of companies and accounts for 84% of the Wolseley’s profitability.
“We are proud to have the Wolseley Group adopt the Ferguson name. We have built a very strong brand over the last 64 years and are known for our performance reputation,” Roach said. “The Ferguson name best represents the group today, and will help create greater shareholder interest in the U.S.”
Effective Aug. 1, the new Ferguson plc will report in U.S. dollars, minimizing currency volatility.
Roach will retire on July 31. Current Ferguson COO Kevin Murphy will assume the role of CEO of Ferguson in the United States effective Aug. 1.
Roach was appointed chief executive officer of Wolseley’s North American Division in January 2006, and in August 2009, assumed additional responsibilities as CEO of Ferguson. Murphy joined Ferguson in 1999 through the acquisition of his family's business, Midwest Pipe and Supply. He has served in a variety of leadership roles and was appointed as Ferguson’s chief operating officer in 2007.
Under Roach’s leadership, Ferguson has grown through strategic acquisitions, organic growth and an unwavering focus on customer service.
Rent-A-Center adopts poison pill
Rent-A-Center Inc. has taken action to reduce the likelihood that an investor gains unsolicited control of the company.
The nation's largest rent-to-own operator has adopted a stockholder rights plan, or a so-called poison pill, that would become exercisable if a group buys 15% or more of its outstanding shares.
The move comes a month after activist investor Engaged Capital LLC, which owns a 12.9% stake in the company, stepped up efforts to push the furniture retailer, which has been struggling with slumping sales, to sell itself.
“The Rights Plan is also designed to protect Rent-A-Center stockholders by reducing the likelihood that any person or group would gain control of the company through open market accumulation without appropriately compensating its stockholders for such control or providing the Board sufficient time to make informed judgments,” Rent-A-Center stated.