Bunnings parent company Wesfarmers, which bought Homebase last year, said first-quarter sales slumped 13.8% to £276m at its fledgling UK and Ireland business.

Like-for-like sales declined 11.9%.

The Australian firm put the sales slide down to “difficult trading conditions” during the three-month period and the large-scale clearance of discontinued stock at its 244 Homebase stores.

Bunnings group managing director Michael Schneider said: “While the performance of Homebase is disappointing, we continue to be encouraged by the performance of the Bunnings pilots.

“The UK and Ireland team remains focused on stabilising the performance of the Homebase stores as well as delivering proof of concept for the Bunnings format.”

The DIY upstart has opened its first handful of Bunnings Warehouse stores, and plans to have between 15 and 20 up and running by the end of this year – a mix of Homebase conversions and newly acquired properties.

Wesfarmers Managing Director Richard Goyder stood by the firm’s investment, but conceded that the process would “take longer than we might have hoped”.

“We still consider the opportunity is a good one,” he said.

The latest Bunnings Warehouse store opens today in Worle on the site of the former Homebase at the Queensway Centre.

The retailer, which opened its debut UK store in St Albans in February, racked up losses of £54m in its first full year in the UK. 

 Across the Bunnings group, sales increased 11.5% during the quarter.