Putting in a good performance.

Travis Perkins' merchant sales boom

Published:  23 February, 2011

NORTHAMPTON: Travis Perkins reported profits up 20% as all 11 of its businesses performed better than the market. Chief performer was merchanting, with sales up 7.3%.

Group revenue rose by 8% at £3.2bn, and 5% higher on a like-for-like basis. Adjusted profit before tax up 20% to £217m, though including exceptional charges profits fell from £213m to £197m. Merchanting sales increased by 7.3% with retail sales up 0.2%.

Like-for-like sales in January were up 22% in merchanting, 8% up in newly acquired plumbing supplies group BSS and 12% in retail. January core sales at Wickes are up 12% with kitchen and bathroom up 15%, reflecting the weak comparatives from the snow affected January last year.

The first three weeks of February saw a 10% increase in like-for-like sales in merchanting, 5% in BSS and a 2% increase in retail on a delivered basis (Wickes core up 3%, kitchens and bathrooms down 2%).

Chief executive Geoff Cooper remains cautious for the year overall, especially in retail, despite the bright start. "The merchanting market fell by over 30% from its peak in 2008 and although activity has picked up a little, from a longer term perspective, activity levels are currently around 20% below their peak.

"Although we will probably see some turbulence in short term trends, we expect activity levels to continue their gradual recovery. In contrast, we expect the retail market to continue to be soft," he said.

The dividend for the year is 15p, after a 10p final payment.

In its statement TPpredicted a gradual recovery in 2010 in merchanting from the sharp contraction of activity, caused by the recession that started towards the end of 2008. But it expects a contraction in retail markets in 2010 following the fading of the artificial support consumers received from a fall in housing costs in 2009.

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