Profit increases 23.1% despite 8% fall in sales at Wickes division.

Travis Perkins has reported a 23.1% hike in pre-tax profits despite branding 2005 a weak year.

The merchant increased its pre-tax profit from £217.7m in 2004 to £268m in 2005. Turnover was boosted by the acquisition of Wickes to reach £2.64bn, up 44% from £1.8m in 2004.

However, Wickes recorded a 7.9% fall in sales in the year, while sales in Travis Perkins' existing outlets grew 2.8% compared to 2004.

Geoff Cooper, chief executive, said: "Although 2005 has been more challenging than recent years, our businesses have performed well against sector peers and the group has made good progress, both strategically and operationally.

"Lead indicators suggest our markets are set to recover gradually from the weak growth experienced in 2005. The work we have done to reduce costs and capture synergy benefits and buying gains leaves us well positioned to benefit from any improvement in volumes.

"We have strengthened our business and look forward with confidence to 2006 and beyond."

This morning's statement also revealed that Andrew Simon, the former chairman and chief executive of materials manufacturer Evode Group, has joined the board as a non-executive director.