The pandemic continues to throttle Travis Perkins as group sales declined £704m to £2,780m in H1 2020, dragged down by its plumbing & heating and merchanting businesses where sales dropped 33.3% and 25.9% respectively. Its retail division (Wickes and Tile Giant) performed better, declining 8.5% against a strong comparative of 8.9% the previous year. Toolstation was the only division to achieve growth, with sales increasing 37.1% over the six months, supported by new space and acquisitions.
Early signs of recovery in its retail division will be encouraging for Travis Perkins; in May, Wickes’ core DIY sales offset the slow recovery in kitchen & bathroom installations, and, in June, retail l-f-l sales achieved strong growth (+21.7%) following store reopenings. However, this performance falls behind Kingfisher, which revealed +15.5% l-f-l sales growth in May and +25.9% in June. Wickes was too slow in re-opening its stores; by the time it decided to trial store reopenings on 30 April, all 288 of Kingfisher’s B&Q stores had already reopened.
With no mention of the resumption of the demerger, it looks likely that Wickes will remain a fascia of Travis Perkins for some time to come. This could delay much-needed investment in its kitchen category, where it is losing ground to specialist Wren, which continues to dominate the market.