Tile and sanitary ware retailer and franchisor Italtile on Friday reported a 15% rise net profit to R494m in the six months to December from the year-earlier period.

The group, whose brands include Italtile Retail, CTM, and TopT, grew group-wide turnover 14% to R3.50bn.

The company, which has a R14.2bn market cap, said there was a general slowdown in activity in the building and construction sector because of constrained disposal income. "In keeping with trends experienced over recent years, modest growth was experienced in the renovation and commercial projects segments, with little improvement reported in the new build market, as both public and private sectors deferred investment," the company said.

In its outlook, Italtile said competition would intensify because of lower consumer demand and high levels of imported product across the industry.

The company is sensitive to the rand as it imports tiles, sanitary ware, bath ware, laminated flooring, among other products.

Headline earnings per share (HEPS) were up 7% to 46.6c and its dividend increased 14% to 16c per share.

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