In 1999 Travis released the hit single, 'Why Does It Always Rain On Me?' and the 2,500 employees in 165 branches of the UK's largest building materials group, Travis Perkins, completely understand the sentiment as they raise umbrellas on the closure of their branches. The company, which has more than 20 businesses (including the Wickes DIY chain, where they are always prepared to call a spanner a spanner), said it expected the Covid-19 fallout to affect its businesses not only this year but next. The branch closures are concentrated in its Travis Perkins General Merchant division.
On the closures, Chief Executive Nick Roberts made a late entry into the most 'Tactless Statement Of The Year' awards in the category of making multiple people redundant when he said, "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." Further twisting the knife, he added, "This is in no way a reflection on those employees impacted and we will do everything we can to support them during this process". Spokespeople for the sacked employees were quoted as saying how delighted they were to hear this and promised, with the time they now have on their hands, to join the queues at both Wickes stores and Toolstation where both businesses are rather surprisingly showing improving like-for-like sales growth against 2019.
In fact, Travis Perkins, as it announced the losses while revealing a 40% plunge in sales volumes during May compared to the same month last year, also reported a pick up as more branches have reopened following the lockdown. This is just the latest example of a well-known high street name hitting the eject button. Could it be argued that it is a tad early in the recovery curve which has only just crept out of bed on its upwards trajectory, and that the act wreaks a little of getting rid of the chaff before the wheat has barely grown?