Better weather helps Travis Perkins deliver sales jump
Wickes owner Travis Perkins has reported a strong rise in first quarter sales as the DIY chain was buoyed by better weather compared with last March’s Beast from the East.
The group saw like-for-like sales grow 7.3% in the three months to March 31, with total sales rising 5.4%.
At Wickes, comparable sales jumped 10.5%, although the firm admitted it had been helped by a “soft prior year comparative”, when extreme weather conditions hammered retailers across the board.
Travis’s plumbing and heating arm saw like-for-like sales drop 4% as the milder winter hit its performance.
Outgoing chief executive John Carter said: “This performance is all the more encouraging given the impact of the ongoing political uncertainty on our end markets.
“In plumbing and heating the milder winter has impacted sales compared to 2018, but our branches and specialist online channels have continued to perform well.”
In December, Travis said it would offload its plumbing and heating division and extend a cost-cutting programme as it targets savings of up to £30 million.
The sale is part of a simplification programme which will see the firm focus on serving trade customers.
The company said at the time that it will “look to review the options for maximising the value” of DIY chain Wickes in the medium term, which could include a sale of the retailer.
Mr Carter added: “The actions set out at our capital markets day in December 2018 to deliver best-in-class service to trade customers and to simplify the group are well under way.
“We are making good progress on cost reduction activities and expect to meet our cost reduction targets this year. Overall expectations for the group in 2019 remain unchanged.”
Earlier this year, Travis announced that Mr Carter, a company veteran, will leave following a 40-year stint at the firm, including 18 years as a director and five as chief executive.
He will be succeeded as CEO by Nick Roberts, currently boss of engineering firm Atkins, who will join the business as a director and chief executive designate on July 1.
Mr Carter will step down from the Travis board on August 5 but remain with the group until the end of 2019 to ensure a smooth handover.