Travis Perkins to close more than 30 branches, putting 600 jobs at risk

Travis Perkins to close more than 30 branches, putting 600 jobs at risk. Builders’ merchant and owner of Wickes chain issues profits warning as it reviews plumbing and heating division
Travis Perkins, the builders’ merchant and owner of the Wickes chain, is to close more than 30 branches in a move that puts 600 jobs at risk.

It is also closing 10 smaller distribution centres and reviewing its plumbing and heating division as it warned over full-year profits amid “uncertain” trading.

The group, which employs 28,000 staff, said it hoped to relocate some of the staff affected to other sites. 

Branches are expected to close across its trade brands, such as Travis Perkins, its kitchen and joinery arm, Benchmarx, and its plumbing and heating businesses, BSS and PTS. 

On Tuesday, Britain’s largest rail freight operator, DB Cargo UK, revealed it was to shed almost 900 jobs, more than a quarter of its workforce after a “dramatic decline” in markets such as coal.

Jobs are also going at Eurostar, which is to cut 80 posts following a fall in passenger numbers and ticket revenue at the cross-Channel train company. The fall in trade is ascribed in part to the EU referendum result.

Shares in Travis Perkins led the FTSE 100 fallers in early trading, dropping by almost 7% to £13.89. The group said full-year underlying earnings would be “slightly” lower than expected, while it cautioned over the outlook for 2017. 

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It said: “Given that levels of future demand remain difficult to predict, the group has chosen to implement a number of efficiency programmes and branch closures to further optimise the network. This work includes the closure of 10 smaller distribution and fabrication centres, the write-off of certain IT legacy equipment and over 30 branch closures in our trade businesses.”

The heating and plumbing division would see the bulk of the branch closures after a “disappointing” performance in the third quarter and in the face of worsening trading conditions. The group plans to report back on its review of the business next year. 

But it said its general merchanting business enjoyed better trading in the quarter, while the consumer-facing chains Wickes and Toolstation and its contracts businesses put in “very strong performances”. Overall like-for-like sales grew 2% in the third quarter.

John Carter, the chief executive of Travis, said: “It is still too early to predict customer demand in 2017 with certainty and we will continue to monitor our lead indicators closely.” 

Travis is halfway through a five-year overhaul of the group, in which it is shutting unprofitable stores and expanding in better-performing areas. It is revamping its Wickes stores and said it has refitted 50 shops.

Travis Perkins to close more than 30 branches, putting 600 jobs at risk

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