The development contrasts with the decision by supermarket chain Somerfield to scrap the post of IT director - a move seen by analysts as representing an increased fragmentation of the role.
Wolseley, which runs 1,400 branches of Builder and Plumb Center, said it wanted to put IT on a more strategic footing within the organisation in response to customer and partner demand for increased e-business links.
IT director Hufton joined Wolseley Centers from local government in 1988, and will represent the IT function on the board and head a team of 60 IT staff.
He said, "The chief executive is enlightened to the need for IT as a separate discipline on the board and most would agree it is a vital component of business today in the value chain linking us with customers and suppliers.
"I welcome broader involvement in business and IT strategy. I have come through a traditional IT route but pride myself on understanding the business. IT gets closer to understanding the end-to-end processes of business than other functions," he said.
Plans include investigating the replacement of bespoke legacy core applications with ERP.