Travis Perkins warns of more sector bankruptcies

TRAVIS Perkins, the builders merchants and owner of DIY chain Wickes, yesterday posted a better-than-expected 27 per cent fall in first-half profit, but warned the sector may see a further slew of bankruptcies before the year is out.<br /><br />The group, which raised &pound;300m in a rights issue in May, reported a pre-tax profit of &pound;90.4m for the six months to 30 June, beating analyst forecasts of &pound;60m-&pound;71m.<br /><br />Travis Perkins said it had received a boost from cost cutting and stock levels, a drive to avoid less profitable work and strong sales of kitchens following the demise of rival MFI.<br /><br />&ldquo;We think things are gradually settling down into the trough,&rdquo; said chief executive Geoff Cooper. &ldquo;However, we don&rsquo;t think that we&rsquo;re going to see any significant recovery until probably the end of next year.&rdquo;<br /><br />He added that the group expects &ldquo;another rash of closures coming through over the winter&rdquo;.