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Wickes kitchen & bathroom orders down by a third

Orders for kitchens and bathrooms at Wickes were down 36% in February thanks to the VAT rise and discounting efforts by competitors, the company says.

The sudden drop in orders came after a 3% drop in January, however the company says that in the 'weak' kitchen and bathroom market, its gross margins were still ahead of 2009.

Those figures for orders contradict figures in the same period for completed delivered sales. On a delivered basis kitchen and bathrooms were up 15% in January, reflecting the weak snowy January in 2010. In February, delivered kitchen and bathroom orders were down 2% on 2009.

Across Wickes' parent company Travis Perkins, group revenue was up £222m to £3.2bn following its acquisition of plumbing and heating company BSS.

"Despite starting the year well we expect conditions for the next 12 months to remain difficult," said chief executive Geoff Cooper. "There is considerable gloom in the wider economy, but we do not subscribe to the double-dip theory.

"The merchanting market fell by over 30% from its peak in 2008 and although activity has picked up a little, from a longer term perspective activity levels are currently around 20% below their peak. Although we will probably see some turbulence in short term trends, we expect activity levels to continue their gradual recovery. In contrast, we expect the retail market to continue to be soft."

Source :

11 March 2011
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