Travis Perkins revealed a sharp hike in sales today as the owner of the Wickes DIY chain and more than 600 builders' merchant yards benefited from Britain's construction and housing market recovery.

The group, which also trades as Tile Giant and Toolstation, said the positive momentum seen last year continued into the first three months of this year, with like-for-like sales up by 12.7%.

The improvement, which also reflected softer comparisons with last year's period of cold weather, was driven by a 16.6% rise in general merchanting as Travis Perkins benefited from the building boom caused by Government schemes such as Funding for Lending and Help to Buy

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Sales in its consumer division were 6.9% higher but the company said kitchen and bathroom categories at Wickes were impacted by rival promotions.

The Northampton-based company, which operates 17 businesses from more than 1,900 sites, reported overall sales growth of 15.6% in the quarter.

The group is the largest supplier of building and construction materials in the UK and last year joined the FTSE 100 Index for the first time. It also has a plumbing and heating arm, which grew comparable sales by 13.2%.