DIY market remains tough for Wickes owner Travis Perkins

Poor weather conditions and lower consumer confidence meant people spent less on DIY jobs in the first three months of the year, hitting sales at building merchant Travis Perkins.
The company blamed the snowy conditions in February and March for a 4.6pc slowdown in growth in its consumer division, which includes the Wickes DIY chain, as people stayed on the sofa rather than starting new home improvement projects.
However, the group as a whole avoided a fall in sales thanks to a stronger performance in its plumbing and heating division and its contracts arm, which supplies materials to other businesses.
Like-for-like sales across the whole group grew by 3pc in the first three months of the year, compared to the previous year.
Plans to turn around the plumbing and heating division, which has struggled in recent years, seem to be bearing fruit: it had been struggling under increased price competition in the wholesale market and falling prices for materials such as copper and plastic.
Travis Perkins
Chief executive John Carter had been forced to close 30 trade branches and cut 600 jobs at the end of 2016 in order to restructure the business.
But the company reported that there was now good growth being delivered through branches, online and the wholesale business thanks to an improvement in its offer to customers.
Mr Carter had warned in February that 2018 would be “mixed”, and as a result the company would concentrate its investment on its key areas, slowing spending elsewhere.
DIY market remains tough for Wickes owner Travis Perkins

John Carter, chief executive of Travis Perkins

Simon Dawson
He said on Friday that he expected the difficult trading conditions to continue, although he remained confident in the longer term outlook and heralded the "solid" results for the first part of the year.
“Recent market lead indicators such as mortgage approvals, housing transactions, house prices and consumer confidence remain mixed, with continued pressure in consumer facing businesses across the UK,” he said.
Shares in the company were down 1.36pc to ?12.67.
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