Business

Travis Perkins says 600 jobs at risk amid branch closures

Travis Perkins worker Image copyright Reuters

The UK's biggest builders merchant, Travis Perkins, is closing 30 branches, putting 600 jobs at risk.

The company, which employs 28,000 people and has 2,060 stores, said it was taking the steps due to an "uncertain UK outlook" for next year.

Profits will also be lower than expected this year due to weak sales in its plumbing and heating division.

The firm is closing branches of Travis Perkins, Benchmarx, BSS and PTS, but not its DIY store Wickes.

'Uncertainty'

Chief executive John Carter said it was "still too early to predict customer demand in 2017 with certainty".

"Given this uncertainty we will be closing over 30 branches and making further efficiency driven changes in the supply chain."

The 600 affected workers have been told of the changes, while the firm is also closing 10 smaller distribution centres and writing off IT equipment.

Image copyright PA

Charlie Campbell, an analyst at Liberum, said it was not clear whether the company's problems were "due to uncertainty around the EU referendum and its after-effects or a sign of more fundamental weakness".

Travis Perkins was one of the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 following the Brexit vote on fears of a hit to the UK's property and construction sectors.

Shares in the company fell 7% in morning trading on Wednesday, and are down more than 22% since the referendum.


What does Travis Perkins do?

The company traces its roots back to a group of joiners and carpenters in the City of London in 1797.

Later calling itself Travis & Arnold, it went on to specialise in timber, before merging with construction suppliers Sandell Perkins in 1988 to form the Travis Perkins group.

Through a string of acquisitions, it has became the biggest supplier to the UK's builders and home improvers, with more than 20 businesses.

Some of those - Wickes and Travis Perkins itself - are household names. Others like BSS, which sells heating pipes, and PTS, with its focus on plumbing supplies, are less well-known outside the trade.

Analysts expect Travis Perkins to make sales of more than £6bn this year and core profits of just under £415m.

But with almost all its business focused on the UK, they are concerned it would be hit by any slowdown in UK housing and construction following the Brexit vote.


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