Tim Stevenson, OBE: a rewarding eight years as chairman.

Walker joins Travis board

Published:  30 September, 2009

NORTHAMPTON: Travis Perkins announced today that it has appointed Robert Walker as a non-executive director. It is the board's intention that he will succeed Tim Stevenson as non-executive chairman with effect from the conclusion of the next Annual General Meeting in May 2010.

Mr Walker is currently chairman of WH Smith, BCA Europe, Americana International Holdings and a non-executive director of Tate & Lyle.He has previously been chairman of other high profile companies, chief among them, Wolseley. 

Commenting on the appointment, Tim Stevenson said: "I have had a very rewarding eight years as chairman. The company has grown significantly, developed sustainable market leading positions and successfully met the challenges posed in both recessionary and expansionary periods.

"Robert will inherit a highly regarded executive management team and an exceptionally strong focus on outperformance. I look forward to working alongside him before he steps up to lead the board next year."

Geoff Cooper, chief executive, yesterday acknowledged that the outlook trading remained uncertain but said that once a recovery took hold, the group was likely to capitalise on the difficulties of rivals, several of which have had to scale down.

Travis Perkins had closed only one site since the peak of the market in January 2008 compared with the 600 that have closed across the sector, Mr Cooper said. "We are a more profitable, more efficient company than our competitors – we always have been."

He added: "The great benefit of not having to close branches is that it puts us in a much stronger market share position and our share will grow in the longer term. We think there's plenty to go for."

Net debt – £1bn at the turn of the year – has continued to fall from the £527m it had reached at the end of June.

The demise of former rival MFI continued to buoy sales at its retail division, which trades under the Wickes brand. Showroom sales rose some 21% from the start of the year to 26 September. 

The group was beginning to hire again in its retail division after a wave of job losses, Mr Cooper said. Travis Perkins shares, which have doubled in the past year, rose a further 441/2p to close at 846p yesterday.


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