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UK DIY retailer Wickes lifts profit outlook after HY earnings beat

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(Reuters) -British home improvement retailer Wickes Group raised its annual profit forecast on Thursday after reporting a better-than-expected jump in its first-half profit as sales volumes through its digital channels surged.

The do-it-yourself (DIY) sector has boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic as stuck-at-home Britons, with fewer leisure options, sought to undertake more home improvement projects.

Wickes said it now expects 2021 profit to be at the upper end of analysts' expected range of 67 million pounds and 75 million pounds ($92.63 million-$103.70 million).

Previously, it had projected profit to be in the upper half range of 55 million pounds to 74 million pounds estimated by analysts.

The retailer, which was spun out of Travis Perkins earlier this year, said it continues to see a strong year-on-year growth, helped by buoyant demand from Local Trade, even as two thirds of first-half sales were driven by digital channels.

The company also said it was successfully dealing with restrictions related to the pandemic and supply chain challenges.

"Our strong relationships with suppliers mean that we have navigated inflationary pressures and raw material constraints well," said Chief Executive Officer David Wood in a statement.

Post-Brexit Britain is battling a shortage of HGV drivers that has impacted companies ranging from department stores to restaurant chains and electronic retailers to automobile firms.

The company's adjusted profit before tax for the six months ended June 30 jumped to 46.5 million pounds, above its forecast of 45 million pounds.

($1 = 0.7233 pounds)

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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