The UK’s largest building materials group Travis Perkins has announced it plans to cut around 2,500 jobs.
The firm, which has more than 20 businesses including the Wickes DIY chain and Toolstation, has begun a consultation process aimed at closing around 165 branches across the UK.
The company said in a statement: “Branch closures will be concentrated in the merchant businesses, in particular the Travis Perkins General Merchant, focusing on small branches where it is either difficult to implement safe distancing practices, or where marginal profitability will be eroded in a reduced volume environment.”
The statement also said Travis Perkins had seen a significant recovery in trading volumes in recent weeks, but that it was “evident the UK is facing a recession and this will have a corresponding impact on the demand for building materials during 2020 and 2021”.
Travis Perkins’ trading volumes are running at around 85-90 percent of last year, with plumbing and heating recovering more slowly as a greater proportion of that type of work requires tradesmen to enter people’s homes.
“We have had to take the very difficult decision to begin consultations on the closure of selected branches and to reduce our workforce to ensure we can protect the group as a whole.”Nick Roberts, Travis Perkins Chief Executive
Nick Roberts, Chief Executive, commented: “The Covid pandemic has created significant challenges across our group and I have been hugely encouraged by the flexibility of our colleagues to adapt our business models successfully and at pace, which has enabled us to maintain safe working practices whilst continuing to provide an effective service to our customers.
“Whilst we have experienced improving trends more recently, we do not expect a return to pre-Covid trading conditions for some time and consequently we have had to take the very difficult decision to begin consultations on the closure of selected branches and to reduce our workforce to ensure we can protect the group as a whole.
“This is in no way a reflection on those employees impacted and we will do everything we can to support them during this process.
“The group has a robust balance sheet, strong liquidity position and I am confident that these proposed changes will enable us to trade successfully through this period of uncertainty with a cost base that better reflects the environment we are operating in.”