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Britain's DIY market is weakening, warns Wickes

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LONDON (Reuters) - British home improvement retailer Wickes has seen signs of softening in both do-it-yourself (DIY) and do-it-for-me (DIFM) markets in recent weeks, it said on Tuesday as it forecast full year profit below market expectations.

Home improvement retailers performed particularly well during the pandemic, with more people turning to DIY as they spent more time at home, had fewer leisure options and traveled less.

Wickes, which demerged from Travis Perkins in April last year, reported second quarter to July 2 like-for-like sales growth of 5.4%, resulting in first half growth of 0.8% against strong prior year comparatives.

The group said its local trade business serving builders, plumbers and electricians continued to perform well.

But it said DIY sales were below last year and although activity was ahead of pre-COVID levels, there were signs of the market softening.

In DIFM, Wickes said it has seen some slowing of new orders in recent weeks, as customers are taking longer to commit to big ticket projects.

"Trading in recent weeks in DIY and a softer outlook for the DIFM market suggest customers are reacting to the uncertain macroeconomic backdrop as we enter the second half of our financial year," Wickes said.

Shares in the group were down 15.4% at 0711 GMT, while shares in rival Kingfisher fell 5.4%.

Wickes forecast full year adjusted pretax profit to be in the range of 72-82 million pounds ($87-$99 million).

Prior to Tuesday's update analysts' average forecast was 87 million pounds.

($1 = 0.8295 pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Louise Heavens)

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