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Travis Perkins well placed after profits rise

Building supplies group Travis Perkins today said an accelerated branch expansion programme enabled it to lift pre-tax profits 18.7 per cent last year.

The Wickes owner said the addition of 75 stores and the acquisition of Tile Giant helped grow market share and expand its operating margin, leaving it with pre-tax profits for the year of £261.4 million.

The figure was slightly ahead of City expectations and meant shares in the Northampton-based group opened almost 2 per cent higher today.

There was also encouragement from recent trading, with the company reporting growth ahead of the rest of the market, even though like-for-like sales in 2008 were some 3 per cent to 4 per cent lower than in 2007 amid a challenging market.

The company ended the calendar year with 1,125 branches, a figure which increased to 1,166 by the end of February. It picked up 31 Tile Giant stores after acquiring the tile retailer in a £12 million deal in November.

Chief executive Geoff Cooper said: "We are well placed to continue our progress in what we expect to be a more challenging market in 2008."