Travis Perkins to close more than 30 branches

Uncertainty surrounds the future of builders’ merchant Travis Perkins’ north and north-east outlets after the nationwide chain announced it is to close more than 30 branches in a move affecting 600 jobs.

The group, which also owns Wickes DIY stores, warned job losses would fall across its trade brands such as Travis Perkins, Benchmarx and plumbing and heating businesses BSS and PTS.

It is also closing 10 smaller distribution centres and putting its heating and plumbing division under review. The group’s retail chains, Wickes and Toolstation, will not be affected.

Yesterday a company spokesman said “local detail” was not yet available on the planned closures, announced by Travis Perkins Plc’s chief executive John Carter.

Covering an area between Thurso and Oban, there are nine Travis Perkins branches in the Highlands, four in the north-east and two in Moray as well as BSS and PTS outlets in Aberdeen and Inverness. The group employs 28,000 people at 2,060 outlets across the UK.

The company said it hopes to relocate some of the staff affected by the closures.

The closures announcement came as the group issued a warning over its full-year profits amid “uncertain” trading.

It said underlying earnings would be slightly lower than expected this year, while it also cautioned over the outlook for 2107.

Mr Carter said: “It is still too early to predict customer demand in 2017 with certainty and we will continue to monitor our lead indicators closely.

“Given this uncertainty we will be closing over 30 branches and making further efficiency-driven changes in the supply chain, resulting in an exceptional charge of £40-50 million this year.”

The group said its heating and plumbing arm will see the bulk of the branch closures after a “disappointing” performance in the third quarter and in the face of worsening trading conditions. It will report back on its review of the division next year.

Overall, the group’s like-for-like sales grew 2% in the third quarter, according to figures released yesterday.

Travis Perkins is just over halfway through a five-year overhaul of the group, which is seeing it shut unprofitable stores and expand in better performing areas.

The group has also hired 4,000 staff and opened 20 new branches this financial year and has re-fitted 50 Wickes stores as part of a revamp of the chain.