Travis Perkins shrugs off ‘challenging conditions’ ahead of Wickes spin-off

Builders merchant and DIY retailer Travis Perkins has shrugged off “challenging market conditions” to deliver better-than-expected sales for the past year.

The FTSE 250 company said it benefited from growth in its Wickes retail chain as it swung back into profit in 2019.

The “strong recovery” for Wickes comes as Travis Perkins closes in on its planned demerger for the retail arm.

It said plans to spin off Wickes are “proceeding smoothly”, with the company set to be a standalone listed business in the second quarter of this year.

Travis Perkins chief executive Nick Roberts said he is happy with the position of the business and believes it is well-placed to weather the impact of tough market conditions and the recent coronavirus outbreak.

“We are watching the situation with coronavirus very closely,” he said. “We have 30 staff in Shanghai who deal with our Asian operations, so our priority is their well-being.

“We are happy with our position as we built up our stock levels for Brexit and that is helping now.

“We had a few supplier factories close but they are all back apart from one. Our confidence is high looking forward but we are obviously watching it carefully.”

Travis Perkins swung to a £123 million pre-tax profit in the year to December 2019, from an £84 million loss in the previous year.

Meanwhile, total revenue increased by 3.2% to £6.9 billion for the year as it was buoyed by 3.8% like-for-like growth.

Mr Roberts said the business has “not yet seen” a bounce in confidence from customers, but added that it can hit targets for the year even if market confidence does not improve.

Wickes saw growth, while Travis Perkins was also significantly boosted by rapid growth in its ToolStation arm, which recently opened its 400th site.

After the demerger, Travis Perkins will primarily cater for building trade professionals, ranging from sole traders to major house-builders.

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