October 22, 2019 / 6:57 AM / a month ago

Travis Perkins puts on hold sale of plumbing and heating unit

FILE PHOTO: A worker stacks timber at the Vauxhall depot of building material supplier Travis Perkins in London, Britain October 25, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall

(Reuters) - Travis Perkins Plc (TPK.L), owner of the Wickes and Toolstation brands, on Tuesday put on hold its plan to sell its plumbing and heating unit, citing “unprecedented level” of market uncertainty.

Britain’s largest distributor of building materials had in December decided to sell the business as part of a push to simplify its structure, cut costs and focus on its trade businesses.

The company, however, said it would meet its cost reduction target for the year and that the demerger of its Wickes home improvement chain was expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2020.

Shares of the company, which have gained more than a third in value so far this year, took a hit earlier this month after rival SIG Plc (SHI.L) warned on annual profit due to weakening economic outlook in Britain and Germany.

In contrast, Travis Perkins posted a 3.8% rise in third-quarter sales on Tuesday and said full-year financial performance was in line with its expectations, though its near-term outlook remains cautious.

British construction has slumped, weighed down by uncertainty over Britain’s departure from the European Union, while the German economy has been slipping towards recession even as construction remains buoyant.

Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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