BUILDERS’ merchant Travis Perkins has unveiled plans to open 400 branches over the next four years, creating 4,000 jobs in the process, in the wake of George Osborne’s move to help first-time buyers with a new savings account.
The listed company, which already operates almost 2,000 branches across the UK under brands such as Keyline, Toolstation and Wickes, said the majority of the new roles would be outside London and the south-east of England.
It plans to invest between £150 million and £200m on the expansion programme, which it said was being supported by UK government actions to bolster the construction sector, including a new savings product aimed at first-time buyers that was announced on Wednesday.
“Travis Perkins’ ability to create 4,000 jobs reflects confidence in our businesses, the markets we operate in and the UK economy as a whole,” said chief executive John Carter.
“This confidence is supported by a number of actions taken by the government over the past two years, including the new Help to Buy Isa, that are continuing to support construction activity and improvements in consumer confidence.”
The Help to Buy Isa, announced by Chancellor George Osborne during his Budget speech, is targeted at helping first-time buyers who are struggling to put money aside for a deposit. For each £200 that savers put in the account, the government will add a further £50.
Osborne described the move as a “tax cut” for first-time buyers, as the top-up is equivalent to saving for a deposit from pre-tax income, and he yesterday welcomed Travis Perkins’ expansion plans.
The Chancellor said: “Their decision to create 4,000 jobs and make significant investments is a vote of confidence in the UK. The government is committed to providing continued support to the construction sector, which is why in the Budget I announced a new Help to Buy Isa for first-time buyers to help them save for their first home.”
The new accounts will be available through banks and building societies from the autumn, and Les Matheson, chief executive of personal and business banking for Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “We’re very supportive of any measures to further help customers to get on to the property ladder where they can afford repayments, but need help getting a deposit together.”
However, Philip Hogg, the chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland, said the introduction of the new savings account would be of little use north of the Border unless there is help to build the homes that are needed in the first place. He said some 500,000 new homes are needed in Scotland over the next 20 years, but current annual production point to a “massive shortfall” with less than 15,000 completed last year. “Although the Scottish Government’s Help to Buy shared equity scheme has been an unqualified success and a major boost to the construction of much-needed new homes, we face its effective end in just a few months as funding has not reflected need and demand, leaving Scotland’s buyers and builders with an uncertain future,” Hogg said.
Results published earlier this month show that Travis Perkins generated revenues of £5.6 billion – an increase of 8.4 per cent on 2013 – while adjusted pre-tax profits grew 12.8 per cent to £362.3m. Its proposed expansion would include 170 apprenticeships for younger people every year and 200 posts for branch managers and assistant managers, along with roles for skilled IT professionals and supply chain specialists.
Carter, who has been with the group for 35 years and became chief executive at the start of 2014, said: “We are making significant investments to improve our customer proposition and in our supply chain to offer superior ranges, availability and value.”
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