Dire results from owner of Wickes
Travis Perkins, the group behind Wickes, warned on profits this morning as it unveiled a disastrous trading update.

The firm's core business, the retailing of hardware aimed at tradesmen, has been hit by a slump in the housing market. Like-for-like sales dropped by 9 per cent and its showroom business, selling big-ticket items such as bathrooms, was hit by a like-for-like sales slump of 21.1 per cent.

The group revealed that trade worsened significantly in recent weeks as Wickes struggled to keep up with the competition. Rivals have been cutting prices in an effort to recover lost market share.

A Travis Perkins statement said: 'We have seen some impact on volumes both from this and from a further deterioration in consumer confidence. While overall trading in the first four months of the second half-year has been broadly in line with expectations, market conditions and lead indicators have worsened significantly from mid-October.'

Seymour Pierce warned the news also signalled trouble for MFI. Analyst Richard Ratner claimed trade had fallen at its Howden trade arm, and said of MFI: 'We believe that drastic action will have to be taken, either an administration of UK retail or, more likely, a rescue rights issue at 50p to raise£150 million in order to rationalise the retail chain.'