Travis Perkins plc sales pick up as UK housing market improves

The Travis Perkins Group, Britain's No. 1 supplier of building materials, posted accelerating sales growth in its third quarter, helped by an increase in construction activity on the back of government initiatives to stimulate the housing market.

Travis Perkins said that while the period saw stronger sales momentum in divisions serving builders - merchanting and plumbing & heating - its consumer businesses - Wickes and Tile Giant - lagged, receiving little benefit from the warmer summer weather as they sell a limited range of outdoor products.

"The recovery in activity, signalled by us in early 2013, looks set to continue into 2014 as owners' and occupiers' construction and maintenance activity increases from the very low levels encountered over the last five years," said Chief Executive Geoff Cooper, who is stepping down from the top job in January.

The number of property transactions in Britain is growing and mortgage approvals are ahead of last year as the government's "Help to Buy" mortgage scheme starts to kick-in.

Sales at outlets open over a year rose 6.3 percent in the three months to September 30, its fiscal third quarter, against the same period last year. That compares with first half like-for-like growth of 0.9 percent, year-on-year. Like-for-like sales were up nearly 11 percent in the merchanting businesses and up 5 percent in plumbing & heating, but flat in the consumer division.