Interim profit rise at Travis Perkins

Travis Perkins, the builders' merchant, saw pre-tax profits rise to pounds 17.2m from pounds 16.9m in the half-year to June. Tony Travis, the chairman, said housing starts continued to fall in the first half, but more recently mortgage approvals, net reservations of new homes and housing transactions had all increased.

"While these improvements have yet to result in any significant improvement in demand for building materials, they offer some encouragement for the future," he added.