Builders and brickies blame April rain for weak results

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Evidence that builders may not be all that macho came from builders' merchant Travis Perkins and the brickmaker Michelmersh yesterday – when they suggested builders don't like working in the rain.

Travis Perkins said April's showers hit demand. "After a good first quarter, record levels of rainfall contributed to a weaker performance in April and the early part of May where activity levels at sites continue to be impacted by the very wet weather," it said. But the FTSE 250 building materials supplier still saw revenues for the four months to May rise 4.4 per cent on a year earlier. The sales were boosted slightly by the acquisition in January of Toolstation, a smaller British rival.

Travis Perkins' chief executive Geoff Cooper – who was the subject of shareholder ire last year, when 40 per cent rejected his proposed 20 per cent pay rise – said: "We are pleased with the good progress in the first quarter."

Rain also stopped play elsewhere in the building industry, with Eric Gadsden, chairman of Michelmersh Brick Holdings, saying that bad weather in February "resulted in lower than expected sales volume" for the first quarter at the brick maker. He said, however, that brick prices were showing signs of an increase because competitors had closed down. "Competition is fierce for every order, but we are holding our own," Mr Gadsden added.

He also hinted that acquisitions could be on the horizon.

Shares in both Travis Perkins and Michelmersh fell 3 per cent to close at 956p and 22.75p respectively.