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Local Travis Perkins branches under threat as firm set to close 165 outlets and axe 2,500 jobs

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Travis Perkins also owns Wickes and Toolstation
Travis Perkins also owns Wickes and Toolstation

BUILDERS merchant Travis Perkins, which has outlets in Christchurch, New Milton, Ringwood and Lymington, is set to close 165 branches due to a dramatic downturn in trade despite lockdown measures easing.

The news comes as the total number of people classed as jobseekers in the New Forest and Christchurch’s three constituencies jumped over two months from 2,290 to 6,690 in May. In April the combined total was 4,640.

Travis Perkins said it was taking “regrettable but necessary actions to preserve the future competitiveness of the business.”

The consultation on the future of 165 of mostly smaller branches, as well as roles in distribution, administration and sales, is expected to result in the loss of around 2,500 employees – about 9% of the workforce.

Travis Perkins is the UK’s largest distributor of building materials and also owns Wickes and Toolstation.

Chief executive Nick Roberts said: “The Covid pandemic has created significant challenges across our group and I have been hugely encouraged by the flexibility of our colleagues to adapt our business models successfully and at pace, which has enabled us to maintain safe working practices whilst continuing to provide an effective service to our customers.

“While we have experienced improving trends more recently, we do not expect a return to pre-Covid trading conditions for some time and consequently we have had to take the very difficult decision to begin consultations on the closure of selected branches and to reduce our workforce to ensure we can protect the group as a whole.

“This is in no way a reflection on those employees impacted and we will do everything we can to support them during this process.

“The group has a robust balance sheet, strong liquidity position and I am confident that these proposed changes will enable us to trade successfully through this period of uncertainty with a cost base that better reflects the environment we are operating in."

As reported, the owner of Elmers Court resort at Lymington, Macdonald Hotels Group, has started a company-wide redundancy consultation involving its 2,299 employees.

The grim local unemployment numbers from the Office for National Statistics showed New Forest East had the highest May jobseeker count with 2,345 – an increase from 1,690 in April.

Of those in the constituency aged 16-64, 4.3% were officially looking for work – up from 1.5% in March. In the south east region the proportion in May was 5.4% and nationally 6.5%.

In New Forest West the jobseeker tally was 2,135 – up from 1,455 in April. The proportion looking for employment in May was 4.7% - up from 1.5% in March.

Christchurch’s jobseeker count came to 2,210, compared with 765 in March and 1,495 in April. Jobseekers made up 5% of the working age population last month, compared with 5.4% in the south west region.

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