DIY retailer Wickes has launched an online advice hub for tradesmen to help improve their business skills and drive its sales.

The site uses information that is available on the Government’s Business Link

Wickes said it wants to become the first point of call for tradesmen who need help with anything from tax return dates to how to manage employees. It hopes to help tradesmen to set up new companies and  therefore help the sector to thrive. will use information that is already available on the government’s online resource for businesses, Business Link, but will make it more user-friendly.

Wickes said a high number of construction businesses fail because of a lack of business knowledge; 38% of tradesmen do not seek any business advice at all because of time constraints, the retailer said.

“They’re very busy so it’s really hard to find time to research things,” said Wickes director Rob Murray. “It’s imperative that tradesmen understand how to protect and grow their businesses effectively, but our research has shown that many tradesmen don’t know where to find this kind of advice.”

He said in the first quarter of 2011, there was a 23% increase in the number of construction companies entering administration compared to the previous quarter, and said the high level of failure is partly down to many tradesmen lacking a solid business background.

Murray said: “Tradesmen are a significant part of our business, and obviously one of the reasons we are doing this is to continue to build Wickes’ reputation with them. We make our money from selling to tradesmen so of course we don’t want them to go bust.”

The site includes template invoices, tips on getting and keeping customers, navigating the legalities surrounding the hiring of employees and apprentices, and tax assessment guidelines.

Murray said: “Essentially, it’s a one-stop-shop for business advice for the trade.”

He added the site’s success will be measured on how many tradesmen use it regularly.