Approximately 9% of the builders’ merchant group’s workforce can expect to lose their job.
Travis Perkins has been reopening branches over the past six weeks and said that although sales were picking up, it was getting ready for more trouble ahead.
“While there has been a significant recovery in trading volumes in recent weeks, 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,” it said.
Sales in May were 60% of what they were in the same month of 2019; as of mid June they are back up to 85-90%.
Branch closures will be concentrated in the Merchant businesses, the company said, “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”.
General Merchanting is doing better than the Plumbing & Heating division because the latter requires more tradesmen to work in people’s homes.
Chief executive Nick Roberts said: “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.