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Wickes sets out ‘digital-first’ strategy ahead of planned spinout from Travis Perkins group

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Wickes this week set out its strategy for its plans to become a “digitally-led service-enabled home improvement business” as the business prepares to spin out of the Travis Perkins group.

The retailer, ranked Leading in IRUK Top500 research,  says its business is uniquely balanced between three segments (local trade, ’do it for me’ services and DIY retail), following its transformation into a digitally-led business. It now plans to grow its position in the UK home improvement market, which it puts at £25bn a year in size.

Multichannel customer journeys

Chief executive David Wood said it was a business where “today the majority of customer journeys start online and are efficiently fulfilled locally through a right-sized national store estate”. 

Wickes says it has responded to customers’ desire to research and browse online when they are first considering their home improvement project. Its website and social media channels host a range of images and videos with information and advice. Last year, it says, there were 19m unique visits to Wickes’ Pinterest boards.

Its end-to-end service includes home and in-store meetings with a design consultant alongside online advice and computer designs that can be viewed online, before installation completes the project.

The figures

The update came as Travis Perkins and Wickes released trading figures showing total Wickes sales growth of 3.4% in the fourth quarter of its financial year, compared to the same period last year. On a like-for-like (LFL) measure, which strips out the effect of store, and business, openings and closures, sales grew by 4.5%. Sales in its core business – which includes local trade and DIY materials – grew by 4.2% in total, and by 5.1% LFL. Sales in the ‘do it for me’ services markets that the retailer hopes to build on, grew by 1.7% in total, and by 3.2% LFL. 

In the full 2019 year, Wickes sales grew by 7.7% in total and by 8.7% LFL. Core sales were up by 5.7% in total and 6.5% LFL, and ‘do it for me’ sales by 12.8% in total, and 14.1% LFL.

David Wood, chief executive of Wickes, said its strong sales performance set it up well for the planned demerger from Travis Perkins, expected to happen in the second quarter of 2020.

He said: “We are looking forward to our future as a stand-alone business, building towards our vision of a Wickes project in every home, allowing us to create long-term value for all our stakeholders.

“We have great confidence in our strategy, which is centred around our strong brand, a distinctive and hard to replicate customer proposition, a uniquely balanced business and a low-cost and efficient operating model. We are pleased with the growth Wickes is delivering and confident in our ability to continue to grow.”

Commenting, Matt Walton, senior retail analyst at data and analytics business GlobalData, said: “Wickes has finished 2019 with a flourish and as the clear winner within the consumer DIY market as it prepares to demerge from the Travis Perkins group. While growth slowed this quarter compared to the rest of 2019, Q4 remains a resilient performance given the weak consumer confidence in the run-up to the Halloween Brexit deadline and subsequent general election.”

He added: “Wickes’ proactive approach to adjusting its offer to the market has helped it outperform the DIY market and will stand it in good stead once it leaves the Travis Perkins group. It was one of the first DIY retailers to embrace online and click & collect while also pruning unproductive space. With both B&Q and Homebase attempting to turn themselves around, Wickes can focus more on developing its own offer. Consumer confidence will remain fragile as our future trading relationship with the EU is being negotiated but Wickes’ focus on its multichannel offer and its ability to remain competitive on price mean it is well placed to continue outperforming the market.”

Image courtesy of Wickes

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