Home improvement lull hits winter sales at Travis Perkins

 
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TRAVIS Perkins yesterday said the dreary weather had helped send like-for-like sales down 1.8 per cent in the first four months of the year.

The firm, which runs builders’ merchants and the DIY retailer Wickes, said a slump in construction work during the cold snap had dented sales, but that April and May were showing signs of recovery.

Special offers and more branded goods to tempt in shoppers have been “very well received”, the firm said.

Wickes like-for-like sales fell 6.1 per cent in the period, while plumbing and heating like-for-likes were 2.6 per cent lower and specialist merchandise like-for-like sales rose 5.9 per cent.

The knock to takings in the first quarter is likely to leave Travis Perkins trailing sales forecasts for the rest of the year, it warned. However, earnings per share are expected to meet targets thanks to tight cost control.

“Overall, the group continues to be in good shape and poised to respond to any meaningful signs of market recovery,” said chief executive Geoff Cooper.

Rival firms including B&Q and Homebase have also endured a rocky start to the year as consumers rein in spending on home improvements.

Shares in the firm closed up 4.1per cent at 1,543p yesterday. The jump was partly triggered by Travis Perkins’ inclusion in the MSCI United Kingdom Index, which attracts tracker funds.