The update reported that the merchanting businesses continued to outperform expectations in challenging market conditions. Travis Perkins, the general mixed merchant, showed encouraging like-for-like growth of 2% and market share gains, particularly in heavyside categories. The specialist merchants delivered more modest growth, primarily driven by price rises, although the continued supply restrictions on plasterboard materials in CCF has put pressure on sales volumes. The Toolstation UK business saw “excellent growth”. Allied to this, the group has acquired a controlling share of Toolstation Europe. Like for like merchanting sale growth was 1.6% during Q3, with year-to-date sales up 4.7%. Toolstation, meanwhile, saw 15.4% in Q3 and 16.6% year-to-date.
Chief Executive Nick Roberts said: “Now in my third month since taking over as CEO of the Group, I have spent a considerable amount of time in our branches, learning about our businesses and our markets from colleagues, customers and suppliers. This has confirmed my initial impressions that our businesses are well positioned to compete strongly and win greater share in their markets in the future. I am particularly impressed by the quality of our teams and their commitment to excellent customer service. The plan to simplify the Group’s portfolio of businesses remains the right one, with good progress made through the quarter towards reducing cost and complexity and enabling greater focus and more disciplined capital allocation to our advantaged trade-focused businesses.
“The Group delivered a solid performance in Q3, despite trading conditions becoming incrementally more challenging through the course of the summer as a result of the on-going market uncertainty. Though the Group maintains a cautious outlook for the near-term, full year performance remains in line with our expectations.”
The P&H business continues to perform well, with good like-for-like growth in higher-margin branch network sales offset by lower revenues in the wholesale business.
The Retail segment achieved like-for-like sales growth of 9.7%, with total sales growth of 8.3%. The strong performance of Wickes continued in Q3, with further market share gains in the Home Improvement market through core DIY categories and in the Kitchen & Bathroom showroom.