The UK’s largest building materials company Travis Perkins is to close around 165 of its locations and could reduce its workforce by 2,500 - 9% of the total - as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The branch closures – representing 8% of its total network - will be focused on the general builders merchant business, and mainly on smaller Travis Perkins locations where it is difficult to implement safe distancing measures or where profitability has been eroded by lower volumes.
The company said the “regrettable but necessary actions” reflected the challenging outlook for its end-markets.
Business volumes in May were around 60% of 2019 levels and are now at 85-90% of a year ago. It said that despite the significant recovery in recent weeks, the UK was facing a recession that would reduce demand for building materials in 2020 and 2021.
The company, which reported revenues of £6.9 billion in 2019, has 2,154 branches under brands including Travis Perkins, Wickes and Toolstation. It offers tool hire from 200 locations.
Nick Roberts, Chief Executive, said; “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.”