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Wickes outperforms "tough" retail market

Published: 23 February 2011
Wickes parent Travis Perkins grew its pre-tax profit by 20% to £217m last year despite a "broadly flat" market, according to its preliminary results statement released today.
Wickes outperforms 'tough' retail market
The group's retail arm, which also includes Tile Giant, outperformed the market by 6%, said the company, with a like-for-like (lfl) sales increase of 0.2% for the year to December 31, 2010.

Total sales went up 2.3% to £1,003m, with sales from new branch openings contributing 2.1%. Within the retail division's overall lfl performance, Wickes core products fell by 2% while kitchen and bathroom sales were ahead by 9.5%.

In January 2011, retail sales went up 12% on a delivered basis. Wickes saw core products rise 12%, while kitchens and bathrooms increased by 15%, reflecting weak comparatives from the snow-affected January last year.

However, Wickes' kitchen and bathroom orders fell 3% in January, and declined 36% in February, reflecting a combination of pre-VAT increase advance ordering in late 2010 and recent competitor discounting.

The first three weeks of February saw retail sales slow to 2%, with core products up 3% and kitchen and bathrooms down 2% at Wickes.

The company said its retail division outperformed "tough" retail markets by improving its customer proposition, particularly in its multichannel operations.

Travis Perkins saw group revenue increase 8% to £3,153m (up 5% on a lfl basis) for the year, mainly due to self-help initiatives. Its merchanting arm saw a strong lfl performance, with sales increasing 7.3%.

Chief executive Geoff Cooper said: "The group made excellent progress in 2010, a year in which our organic development strategy, against a backdrop of depressed levels of construction activity, produced a strong financial performance. The group achieved further market share gains and impressive increases in profits."

He added that the company's prospects in the UK have been "considerably strengthened" through the recent acquisition of the BSS group, completed in December last year.

The company said it expects conditions for the next 12 months to remain "difficult", but added it does not subscribe to the double-dip theory, despite "considerable gloom in the wider economy".

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