The chief executive of builders’ merchant Travis Perkins has called for the Chancellor to introduce “radical measures” to kickstart the British economy.
Geoff Cooper said that the Government should use the Budget to scrap VAT on home improvement products and introduce tax relief on mortgages for first-time buyers.
“I know the economists will shriek with horror, but these are not conventional times,” Mr Cooper said. “Any type of conventional measure is only going to scratch the surface.”
Mr Cooper was speaking as Travis Perkins, which owns Wickes, reported a 16pc rise in annual pre-tax profits to £313m but warned of “volatile” trading conditions.
The company saw its like-for-like sales fall 1.4pc in 2012 due to a lack of activity in the housing market and pressure on consumer spending hindering Wickes sales.
Mr Cooper also warned that like-for-like-sales fell by 5.1pc in the first seven weeks of 2013, with the snowfall in January impacting trading.
However, total sales rose 1.4pc to £4.8bn in 2012 as Travis Perkins was boosted by the acquisition of trade retailer Toolstation.
The Travis Perkins chief executive said that improvements in mortgage and housing transactions data could boost the company and its markets later in 2013.
However, he warned: “Whilst there are indications, for the first time in a while, that growth will return to our markets later this year, we anticipate volatile conditions will persist in the short term, further troubling weaker operators.”