April 27, 2018 / 8:10 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Travis Perkins flags weak UK home improvement market

* Wickes chain hit by declining DIY market

* Group like-for-like sales up 3 pct

* Overall expectations for 2018 unchanged

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* (Adds detail, shares)

LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) - Travis Perkins, Britain’s biggest supplier of building materials, highlighted a weak home improvement market on Friday but said it would meet expectations for 2018 if there was no further deterioration in market conditions.

The group said like-for-like sales in its consumer division - the Wickes chain - fell 4.6 percent in the first quarter of the year.

“Wickes suffered from a declining UK DIY (Do-It-Yourself) market reflecting weak consumer sentiment,” it said. Bad weather in February and March also dented sales.

Shares in Travis Perkins, down 21 percent year-on-year, were down 1.2 percent at 0751 GMT.

Last month Kingfisher, Europe’s second largest home improvement retailer, warned the outlook for the UK market was “more uncertain” after a dip in trading.

On Thursday Homebase/Bunnings, the No. 2 player in Britain, reported a 15.4 percent slump in quarterly sales. Owner Australia’s Wesfarmers is reviewing the future of the business.

Travis Perkins’ overall like-for-like sales rose 3.0 percent in the first quarter, benefiting from a strong performance in the restructured plumbing & heating business where underlying sales rose 19.7 percent.

The group, which trades from over 20 businesses, noted that recent market lead indicators such as mortgage approvals, housing transactions, house prices and consumer confidence have been mixed.

“Assuming no further deterioration in market conditions, at this early stage of the year the group is on track to meet its expectations for 2018,” it said.

Separately on Friday a long-running survey by market research company GfK found British consumer sentiment fell back this month as households grew more worried about their finances and remained gloomy about the outlook for the economy.

Another survey from mortgage lender Nationwide said house prices in Britain rose a bit more quickly this month after touching a seven-month low in March.

In February Travis Perkins forecast a flat performance in 2018 and said it would slow investment in non-priority areas. It made core earnings of 380 million pounds in 2017. (Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton and Jon Boyle)

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