Yorkshire building materials firm says UK economy has turned a corner

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Building materials distributor SIG Plc said full-year underlying pretax profit rose 5.3 per cent as the UK residential construction market picked up in the second half of 2013.

The Yorkshire company, which operates in Europe as well as the UK, said it expected construction activity in the UK residential market to remain buoyant, with the non-residential sector continuing to be broadly flat.

Employment and output in Britain’s construction sector in November was the highest since August 2007, according to Markit/CIPS construction PMI survey.

The construction industry was hit hard by the financial crisis of 2007-09 but has been recovering since last year thanks to record low interest rates, Government programmes to encourage people to buy new homes and falling unemployment.

SIG’s underlying pretax profit rose to £88.1m in 2013 from £84.1m in 2012.

The company said full-year sales from continuing operations rose 4.4 per cent to £2.6bn, helped by favourable exchange rates and acquisitions.

Chief executive Stuart Mitchell said the UK economy has definitely turned a corner.

“Whether it’s the corner, I’m not sure yet,” he added. Mr Mitchell said the good recovery in the last quarter of 2013 has continued into 2014.

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