Tools and fastener merchanting and retailing group Travis Perkins has recorded a positive start to 2019 with Q1 growth in sales of 7.3% (like-for-like) and total sales growth of 5.5%, albeit in comparison to a soft trading period.
In the first results after it refocused the business on its trade customers, the owner of Toolstation and Wickes saw growth across the board with the Merchanting side of the business faring particularly well, up 10.5% in sales.
DIY and trade chain Wickes, which has struggled, saw a ‘good recovery’ and recorded 10.5% in like-for-like sales growth. DIY and Kitchen & Bathroom showroom both performed well for the Wickes brand.
Toolstation continued its upwards trajectory, with 25% total sales growth, bolstered by the growth in the store network – 60 new stores are to be opened in 2019 and Europe is seeing its expansion too – and the new site launching at the end of 2018.
Travis Perkins generated like-for-like sales growth of 8%, buoyed by sales growth with larger regional and national customers and through the Managed Services business. The business is currently empowering branch managers, giving experienced managers with greater access to info, simplified pricing systems and more customer focused support.
While the specialist merchant businesses continued to drive strong like-for-like sales growth, the group noted “the on-going political uncertainty” which has also been blamed for difficult trading by the likes of Cromwell. Travis Perkins said it “poses a risk to the outlook for the commercial construction and housebuilding markets”. The firm brought in a new COO for its trade merchant business earlier this year.
John Carter, Chief Executive, commented: “We have delivered strong sales growth in the first quarter of the year, which reflects both our focus on excellent customer service and the weak comparator in 2018. This performance is all the more encouraging given the impact of the on-going political uncertainty on our end markets.
“The actions set out at our capital markets day in December 2018 to deliver best in class service to trade customers and to simplify the Group are well underway. We are making good progress on cost reduction activities and expect to meet our cost reduction targets this year. Overall expectations for the Group in 2019 remain unchanged.”
There’s more details on the numbers in Travis Perkins’ Q1 trading update.