Travis Perkins has posted a 3.9 per cent rise in group sales for its third quarter, despite battling against “significant pricing pressure in the UK DIY market” under its Wickes brand.
In the 12 weeks to September 30, like-for-like sales rose 4.1 per cent, although growth was partially offset by a 4.2 per cent decline at Wickes, the direct-to-consumer branch of the business.
Wickes reported a 1.8 per cent drop over all for total sales in the third quarter, subsequently dragging down Travis Perkins’ 3.9 per cent total.
“The group delivered a solid Q3 trading performance, in line with expectations”, Travis Perkins chief executive John Carter said.
“Our trade-focused businesses delivered good sales growth against a challenging market backdrop, including successful recovery of cost price inflation.”
“The UK DIY market continues to be very challenging for Wickes, where significant price pressure and weak consumer confidence is providing a tough trading backdrop.”
Carter noted that the business had continued to make “good progress” with the cost reduction activities introduced in July.
He said adding that “these actions are generating positive results and underpin our confidence that our full-year performance is on track and in line with market expectations”.
Wickes hit headlines over summer when it claimed it was considering taking on 900 new colleagues from rival B&Q.
As part of a major recruitment drive, Wickes said it was investing significantly in its professional kitchen and bathroom offer and was eyeing the possibility of hiring B&Q’s design consultants and subcontracted installers.
However, despite B&Q’s staff reductions and rival Homebase’s troubles across the summer, Wickes experienced a “continued volume decline” for its core DIY and kitchen and bathroom categories.
“Significant pricing competition across the sector has prevented the recovery of cost price inflation, albeit pricing pressure has begun to moderate in recent weeks, and order activity has shown some early signs of recovery,” Travis Perkins stated.
It added: “Cost reduction activities are progressing as planned, with reduced distribution costs and tight control of overhead costs.”