Travis Perkins chairman Tim Stevenson said: 'Our business has made excellent progress in the first four months of 2007 in markets that have continued the improvement seen in the latter part of 2006.'
Trading at retail chain Wickes was in line with company expectations, with sales up 13.2 per cent. Like-for-like sales increased 8.7 per cent, with core product sales up 11.5 per cent, but showroom sales fell 4 per cent.
Stevenson said: 'Our retailing business has grown its market share in this period. [However] our gross margins are slightly below expectations and the comparable period in 2006. The partly reflects a change of mix, with weaker showroom sales against a trading period affected by one off factors in early 2006 and partly reflects price competition in key value lines.'
The company said it expects good trading conditions to persist for the remainder of the first half. However, Stevenson added: 'Recent lead indicators, particularly from the housing market and increasing interest rates point to a slowing rate of improvement of activity levels in our markets in the second half. In that context, whilst we are trading ahead of market expectations we expect the second half to be in line with expectations.'
Since the end of 2006, the company has added a net 23 stores to its merchanting division and two new Wickes stores, bringing the total to1047.