Source - Alliance News

Wickes Group PLC on Friday said adjusted profit for 2023 will be at the top end of market expectations, despite a slight slip in like-for-like sales.

Wickes shares were up 5.7% to 153.21 pence early Friday in London.

Watford-based building supplies retailer, which was spun off from Travis Perkins PLC back in 2021, said adjusted pretax profit in the 52 weeks that ended December 30 is expected to be at the upper end of the market consensus range, which it put at £44.9 million to £48.3 million. This will be down from £75.4 million in 2022.

Like-for-like sales were down 0.3% in 2023 from 2022, Wickes said, but the company said it exercised strong cost and stock control.

At year-end, it had £97.5 million in cash, in line with guidance, after £10.1 million in share buybacks.

Wickes said sales in its Core business of do-it-yourself and trade products edged up 0.1% in 2023. After a 4.4% decline in the first quarter, the Core business posted 2.3%, 1.1% and 1.2% sales increases in the next three.

Sales in the newer Do-It-For-Me business went in the opposite direction during 2023. After a 6.2% increase in the first quarter and 5.3% in the second, the division saw sales decline by 5.5% in the third quarter and 14% in the fourth.

In addition to a ‘subdued consumer environment’, DIFM sales in the fourth quarter were hurt by delivery delays caused by the rollout of new software. Wickes said the software issue has been addressed and won’t hurt sales in 2024.

Total group like-for-like sales were down 2.6% in the fourth quarter.

Chief Executive David Wood called the 2023 sales results ‘robust’ in the face of a ‘challenging market backdrop’.

‘We remain confident in our growth levers, and in 2023 we have invested further in new stores, refits and our digital capability,’ he said. ‘This leaves us well-placed to continue to outperform the market in 2024 and beyond.’

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