LONDON Britain's Marshalls (MSLH.L) said its paving products developed with new finishes, better drainage and easier installation helped drive a 31 percent rise in 2016 pretax profit, boosting its shares on Wednesday.
The company, which supplies hard landscaping for projects ranging from commercial developments to home patios, reported pretax profit of 46 million pounds, beating expectations, on revenue up 3 percent at 396.9 million pounds.
Chief Executive Martyn Coffey said the group's investment in technology gave its products an edge.
"If we can come up with products that are easier to install, that might be lower cost or give a completely different look, that has massive benefits," he said in an interview.
"Last year we filed and achieved seven different patents so that is a big differentiator and margin enhancer."
Coffey said demand had continued to pick up since the end of the year, with both sales and order intake strong in the first couple of months of 2017.
Marshalls said it would pay a supplementary dividend of 3 pence a share, in addition to a final dividend of 5.8 pence a share, up from 4.75 pence a year ago.
Shares in the company rose to a 10-month high of 350 pence, as analysts at Canaccord Genuity said they expected another year of good growth in 2017, with more upside remaining in margins.
($1 = 0.8207 pounds)
(Reporting by Paul Sandle, editing by Louise Heavens)