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Tayside and Fife builders’ merchant plans to cut branches and jobs

General view of a Travis Perkins store
General view of a Travis Perkins store

A builders’ merchant which operates from several locations in Tayside and Fife has put thousands of jobs at risk as it plans a series of branch closures.

Travis Perkins told staff this morning that it intends to close 165 branches across its estate.

The group, which operates the Wickes and Toolstation brands, expects to reduce its workforce by around 2,500 people.

The closures will be concentrated in the merchant business, with smaller Travis Perkins branches under threat.

The company operates under the Travis Perkins brand from two locations in Fife – Prestonhall Industrial Estate in Cupar and Pitreavie Business Park in Dunfermline.

Travis Perkins also has branches in Dunkeld Road in Perth, Old Brechin Road in Forfar, Elliott Industrial Estate in Arbroath and Waldron Road in Montrose.

A statement from the company said: “Following discussions with colleagues this morning, the Group has commenced a consultation process regarding the closure of around 165 branches across the overall branch estate, representing approximately 8% of the group’s network.

“In addition, the group is consulting on above-branch roles in the distribution, administrative and sales functions. In total, the Group expects to reduce the number of colleagues by around 2,500 or approximately 9% of the workforce.

“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.”

A company spokesman would not confirm which branches were at risk.

Travis Perkins said it had seen a significant recovery in trading volumes in recent weeks but, as it was clear a recession was coming, it wanted to restructure its operations now.

The company added: “It is evident that the UK is facing a recession and this will have a corresponding impact on the demand for building materials during 2020 and 2021.”

Sales were down 40% in May compared with the same month a year ago, but there have been strong sales in Wickes and Toolstation as households stuck indoors turn their hands to DIY.

Its general merchanting business is operating well, it said, with builders returning to homes to continue or start new residential jobs following a relaxing of rules on going back to work.

But plumbing and heating is “recovering more slowly as a greater proportion of plumbing work requires tradesmen to work in people’s homes”, it added.

At the end of last week, the company had cash deposits of £363 million alongside an undrawn overdraft of £400 million with its banks.

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