Wickes shares jump as it forecasts profit at top end

Shares in Wickes Group (LSE: WIX) jumped nearly 7% on Friday after the building supplies retailer said it expects to post adjusted pretax profit for 2023 at the upper end of analysts’ forecasts, despite a slight drop in like-for-like sales.

The home improvement retailer, which demerged from Travis Perkins in 2021, said in a trading update that adjusted pretax profit for the 52 weeks to 30 December is anticipated to come in between £44.9m-£48.3m – the top of the range predicted by market watchers. This would, however, represent a decline from £75.4m in 2022.

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Like-for-like sales dipped 0.3% over the year, though Wickes credited “strong cost and stock control”. Its Core business saw a marginal 0.1% sales increase, while the newer Do-It-For-Me arm suffered falls in the second half due to software rollout issues. Total group like-for-like sales declined 2.6% in Q4.

Wickes shares jumped to 155p just before Friday’s close. The company ended 2023 with £97.5m in cash after spending £10.1m on buybacks.

Chief Executive David Wood said 2023 sales had been “robust” given the “challenging market”, and that continued investment has left Wickes “well-placed” to outdo rivals in 2024.