Travis Perkins has announced a Q3 trading update stating that like-for-like revenue grew by 3.9%.
Nick Roberts, Chief Executive, commented: “We have reported a positive overall like-for-like sales performance in the quarter as our markets have continued to recover following the impact of the national lockdown earlier this year. This has been driven by a strong recovery in demand across domestic RMI markets, benefitting the Travis Perkins, City Plumbing, Wickes and Toolstation businesses who serve these markets. Currently this domestic RMI trend remains strong.
“Whilst local trade activity has recovered well, our trade businesses continue to experience a lag in recovery from larger housebuilding and construction projects. However, there are signs of increasing workflow across these sectors as underlying demand strengthens as businesses have adapted to new and safe ways of working that enable them to keep sites open during periods of local lockdown.
“During the quarter, we have made further progress in strengthening the core of our trade businesses, in addition to completing the disposal of Tile Giant.
“Our excellent cash generation this year has built a strong liquidity position, and combined with the decisive actions taken in June to realign our cost base to the new trading environment we are confident in both the Group’s ability to navigate the near-term uncertainty, as well as our position for the long term as we build towards becoming the leading partner for the construction industry.”
Like-for-like sales grew by 3.9% in Q3, although total Group sales declined by 3.4%, reflecting branch closures since June. There was no net impact of trading days in the quarter, compared with the same period in 2019. Across the Group there was no appreciable impact from price inflation, with the change in sales driven by volume.
There have been significant differences in performance across the Group’s end markets, with particular strength in domestic RMI, manifesting as strong sales in DIY categories in Wickes and Toolstation, and good trading levels with local trade customers in Toolstation, Travis Perkins and P&H. By contrast, the larger end of customer activity has been slower to return to normal, and at the end of September both new housebuilding and commercial construction continue to run at levels some way below 2019, specifically impacting the specialist merchants and elements of the P&H business.
The progression of sales recovery has continued throughout Q3, particularly in the trade focused businesses. During July, volumes picked up strongly as markets exited the lockdown period. Trading in August was modestly softer, impacted by a protracted holiday season, before then picking up again in September in line with schools reopening and many trades returning to a more normal work schedule.
Continued buoyancy in the DIY markets and a more encouraging trend in trade focused markets in September has driven like-for-like growth of 8% for the month, with total sales growth, adjusted for trading days, of around 0.3%. The difference between LFL sales and total sales performance was primarily due to the impact of the merchanting branch closures in June and the disposal of PF&P, partially reduced by the acquisition of Toolstation Europe.
Across the Merchant and P&H segments, whilst the branch closures announced in mid-June were significant drivers of the reduction in total sales, businesses have successfully migrated a significant proportion of sales to nearby branches, in line with management expectations. This has been particularly true for larger customers who already trade with multiple branches and customers of the specialist merchants where a higher proportion of sales are delivered. At a Group level, this retention of sales added around 3% to like-for-like performance.
The Group continues to maintain a strong liquidity position, with £580m of cash on deposit at 30 September combined with the undrawn RCF giving overall headroom of £980m.
The Group completed the sale of the Tile Giant business on 30 September. This demonstrates a further step towards the simplification of the Group, and to focus on advantaged trade businesses.
During Q3 the Group’s end markets have shown an encouraging recovery from the lockdown period, however significant uncertainty remains from both the pandemic and the ongoing Brexit negotiations, making it hard to forecast performance in the near-term. Based on the assumption that current volume trends continue, including the ongoing strength in DIY sales, and that any further lockdown measures introduced do not have a significant impact on the Group’s end markets, the Group expects its EBITA performance for 2020 to be in the upper half of the current range of analysts’ expectations.