Builders' merchant in £558m bid

Builders' merchant Travis Perkins has unveiled a takeover offer worth £558 million for plumbing supplies specialist BSS.

The proposed tie-up, which has been backed by the board of BSS, will make the Wickes owner a major player in the trade and retail distribution of plumbing and heating products.

BSS started life as British Steam Specialities in 1899 and currently operates from 439 branches in the UK, generating revenues of 1.35 billion and profits of 49.6m in the year to 31 March.

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The cash and shares deal is the largest undertaken by Travis since the 950m takeover of the Wickes DIY chain in 2005.

Northampton-based Travis, which will gain access to new areas of the plumbing and heating supplies sector through the acquisition, said it had believed for some time that consolidation was vital in the builders' merchant industry.

As well as creating a leading business in the sector, it claimed it will have the size and scale to purchase products more competitively. It expects to achieve annual cost savings of at least 25m by 2013, made up of 19m in purchasing benefits and 6 million from overheads.

Travis Perkins chairman Robert Walker said: "Our respective businesses are complementary and we look forward to working with BSS's customers, suppliers and employees."