Parent company Ferguson plc said that it could make more money by leaving the UK and focusing on its North American operations.
Ferguson was a US plumbing supplier acquired by Britain’s Wolseley in 1982. It proved so successful that the US operations became the major part of the business, to the extent that in 2017 Wolseley plc changed its name to Ferguson plc.
The sale of Wolseley UK, which today contributes less than 10% to group revenues, represents the culmination of the trans-Atlantic shift of the business.
In the year ended July 31, 2020 Wolseley UK generated revenue of £1,370m and underlying trading profit of £6m. Gross assets at August 2020 were £800m.
The transaction is expected to complete at the end of January 2021
Ferguson chief executive Kevin Murphy said: "Wolseley is a leading heating and plumbing distribution business in the UK and we are confident the business will benefit from working with its new owners, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice who will develop the business further by focusing on continued opportunities in the industry. We'd like to thank all our associates for their tireless hard work while they have been part of the group, especially recently through the Covid-19 pandemic. We wish them all the very best for the future.
"The transaction further simplifies the group and allows us to focus entirely on investing in and developing our business across North America where we have the greatest opportunities for profitable growth."
Wolseley was founded in 1887 as the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Company by Frederick York Wolseley. In 1899 it produced its first motor car but sold this business in 1901 to Morris Motors. The company switched from manufacturing to distribution in 1979