Travis Perkins’ profits slipped in its first half, during which the group was impacted by weakening housing transactions and consumer confidence, as well as cost inflation.
The building supplies giant said group pre-tax profit fell 4.9% to £175m in the six months to June 30, largely due to the “challenging” plumbing and heating market in which it operates.
It said it was also affected by “a number of macroeconomic headwinds” during the period, but group sales advanced 3.5%, and by 2.7% on a like-for-like basis.
Travis Perkins’ said its consumer division – consisting of 642 Wickes, Toolstation and Tile Giant stores – delivered a “strong performance”.
Adjusted operating profit edged up 2.3% to £45m, while sales rose 7.3% to £822m.
The group said Wickes outperformed a “tough DIY market”.
During the period the retailer ploughed on with its store refurbishment programme, completing a further 18 refits.
Wickes also bolstered its online proposition, with range extensions and same-day, one-hour delivery slots.
The group also continued to expand its Toolstation network, opening 19 new UK stores in the period, as well as five in the Netherlands.
It said its newly improved digital customer experience, including reduced click-and-collect times, better product reviews and personalised offers, drove a “significant step up” in sales growth at the Screwfix rival.
Commenting on the group’s overall performance, chief executive John Carter said: “We executed our plan well and delivered a solid overall performance in the first half of 2017 against a challenging market backdrop of pronounced input cost inflation and market volatility.
“In the first half of the year, the group made a conscious decision to recover input cost inflation selectively through disciplined pricing activity. Whilst this had some impact on trading volume, it enabled us to maintain group gross margins and positions the business well for the future.”
Carter added that the business remains “cautious” on the macroeconomic outlook for the second half, but is focused on executing the “clear plans it has in place”.