Builders' merchant Travis Perkins has confirmed plans to close 165 stores and cut 2,500 jobs from its workforce, citing the 'challenging outlook' ahead for trading.
In a statement released this morning, the firm said that they had 'used Government schemes appropriately to protect employment during the lockdown period, giving time to make an initial assessment of the level of recovery of the trading environment as the lockdown eases'.
This assessment has concluded that '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'.
'Reflecting the challenging outlook for our end-markets, the Group is taking regrettable but necessary actions to preserve the future competitiveness of the business.'
As a result, 165 branches across the UK - around 8% of stores - are expected to close. Those affected will be concentrated in the Merchant businesses, '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', the company said.
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.
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Nick Roberts, the group's Chief Executive, commented: '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.
'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.'