A trading update issued this morning (July 28) by Travis Perkins plc shows that of its four divisions, only Toolstation has shown growth in like-for-like sales in the first half, a clear benefit of the strong DIY sales through the UK lockdown period.
For the first half year, merchanting sales were 25.8% down, Plumbing and Heating 22.8% and Retail 8.2%. Toolstation, however, rose 12.9%. Overall, Group revenue for the first six months of 2020 was £2,780m, down 20% on the same period in 2019 (£3,484m) due to the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown.
The picture for the second quarter is even more grim, with merchanting sales down 42% on a like-for-like basis, Plumbing and Heating sales halved at 48.4% down and retail sales fell 19.8%. Here, too, Toolstation did better, rising 16.5%.
That said, the group reports that, since the most recent trading update in mid-June, the Merchanting businesses have continued to recover well with the improvement in RMI markets and infrastructure spending proving to be more robust than the new housebuilding and commercial construction markets. Plumbing & Heating markets are also recovering more gradually as projects are predominantly carried out indoors.
Overall, Wickes achieved strong sales growth in June following the re-opening of its stores to customers in late May, with significant growth in core DIY categories more than offsetting the slower recovery in Kitchen & Bathroom installations.
Nick Roberts, CEO, said: “Since the trading update on 15 June, the business has continued to recover well with good demand from RMI and infrastructure markets offsetting ongoing challenges in the new build and commercial construction sectors.
We remain cautious as to the near-term headwinds facing our business and the wider economy, nevertheless the decisive actions we have taken to manage our cost base mean that we are well placed to continue to service our customers, support our colleagues and generate value for our shareholders.”
In June the group closed 165 branches, losing around 2,500 jobs.