Travis Perkins increased its pre-tax profits by 26.6% to £110.5m in the year ending December 31, with timber sales accounting for a ‘healthy’ part of the business.

Turnover for 2001 was £1.279bn, an increase of 8.3% on the previous year, with timber sales in the region of £270m, or about 22% of total sales.

Meanwhile, the integration of DW Archer, Travis Perkins’ specialist timber operation, is complete and investment costing several million pounds is under way in its 11 branches, with the first phase being developments to the trade counter to extend product ranges. Panel products will be sold through DW Archer for the first time.

Frank McKay, chief executive of Travis Perkins, added: ‘Investment made during the year in our timber milling operations has increased efficiency and the availability of product to branches. As a result the profitability of our timber operations has improved.’

He said about £500,000 was invested in the five mills, reducing manufacturing costs by 15-20%.

‘Prices are very difficult to get on the timber side so we have had to work hard on efficiencies. But it is a very healthy part of the business and can hold its head up high,’ Mr McKay added.

Branches will also be rolling out ranges of engineered wood products for the first time, including Trus Joist‘s, Silent Floor system and I-beams.

The number of branches increased by 29 to 502 during 2001. Travis Perkins will continue to target gaps in its regional coverage by acquisition of independent merchants and building on greenfield sites.