Wickes owner Travis Perkins has posted an increase in first quarter sales within its retail arm as growth in store numbers drove performance.

Travis Perkins hailed the “consistent strong performance” of its consumer division, which also includes Toolstation, as like-for-likes climbed 2.9% in the three months ending March 31.

Total sales across its retail arm jumped 4.4%, but sales gains were driven largely by 2.4% growth in store numbers.

Across the wider group – which includes general merchanting, contracts, and plumbing and heating businesses – like-for-like sales advanced 2.7%, while total sales spiked up 4.9%.

Travis Perkins admitted growth in retail like-for-likes had slowed during the quarter, but insisted this was “primarily due to the timing of Easter”, which falls in its second quarter this year.

The business said that shift hampered growth by approximately three percentage points.

‘Good growth’ in Wickes

Despite the timing of Easter dragging on sales, Travis Perkins hailed “good growth” in the Wickes showroom offer, multichannel sales and store expansion across both Wickes and Toolstation.

Travis Perkins, which suffered a 60% slump in full-year earnings after warning on profits last October, insisted that that market indicators such as mortgage approvals, housing transactions, house prices and consumer sentiment had given “an inconsistent picture of the strength of the RMI market.”

The company insisted it had “sufficient flexibility in its operating model and financial position” to adapt to changing market conditions.

Confident outlook

Travis Perkins chief executive John Carter said: “Despite mixed trading conditions expected for the remainder of 2017, we continue to be confident in the longer term outlook for the building materials market and our opportunities to grow and outperform.

“We continue to invest to build upon the scale advantage we have created and to extend or develop superior customer propositions.

“These investments will enable us to improve cash flow and returns over the longer term.”