Strong DIY sales helped to lift sales at Toolstation and Wickes in the third quarter of parent company Travis Perkins’ financial year. Group sales were affected, however, as branches of its builders’ merchant business closed and as the recovery in housebuilding and construction projects lagged.
Over the last year both companies have benefitted as shoppers turned online to buy DIY materials either for delivery or for click and collect. In the first half of the year, 90% of Toolstation transactions took place online, while Wickes ‘ online sales grew by 115% and click and collect by more than 1,000%. Wickes and Toolstation are both Leading retailers in RXUK Top500 research.
Today Travis Perkins said in a trading update that its group sales fell by 3.4% in total in the third quarter of its financial year – reflecting branch closures – but rose by 3.9% on a like-for-like basis that strips out the effect of store – and business – openings and closures.
Over that period, Toolstation sales were up by almost half (49.9%) in total and by 25.5% LFL. Retail sales – the division that primarily includes Wickes – grew by 17.3% in total and by 18.3% LFL.
In the year to date, group sales have fallen both in total (-14.6%) and on a like-for-like basis (-11.8%). Toolstation sales grew 41.6% in total, and by 17.3% LFL, while retail sales fell by 0.6% in total and grew by 0.2% LFL.
Travis Perkins chief executive Nick Roberts said: “We have reported a positive overall like-for-like sales performance in the quarter as our markets have continued to recover following the impact of the national lockdown earlier this year. This has been driven by a strong recovery in demand across domestic RMI (repair and maintenance) markets, benefitting the Travis Perkins, City Plumbing, Wickes and Toolstation businesses who serve these markets. Currently this domestic RMI trend remains strong.
“Whilst local trade activity has recovered well, our trade businesses continue to experience a lag in recovery from larger housebuilding and construction projects. However, there are signs of increasing workflow across these sectors as underlying demand strengthens as businesses have adapted to new and safe ways of working that enable them to keep sites open during periods of local lockdown.”
Looking ahead, Travis Perkins said was hard to forecast performance in the light of pandemic uncertainty and ongoing Brexit negotiations. However, if strong DIY sales continue and further lockdown measures do not hit its end markets significantly, it expects that full-year earnings will be in the upper range of analyst expectations – which fall within a range of £222m to £261m. The group had access to £980m as of September 30 2020.