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Builders' merchant Travis Perkins will ramp up its investment in growing the business from £100m a year to as much as £170m over the next few years, its finance director has told Insider.

The Northampton company built up its cash reserves to £139.1m in the 12 months to December 2012, from £62.9m two years earlier, despite the construction sector experiencing difficult times. It balance left the business at number 22 in Insider's first-ever War Chest Top 100.

Travis Perkins bought Wickes in 2005 and plumbing supplier BSS for £557m in 2010 and finance director Tony Buffin told Insider while it is unlikely to make further acquisitions of this size, smaller deals are possible.

"We're not actively looking for large-scale transformational acquisitions," Buffin said. "We do see opportunities for smaller deals which involve targeted acquisitions in specific regions or product niches."

Independent builders' merchants in areas where the company has little presence or in categories it doesn't yet cover could catch Travis Perkins' eye. It bought renewable energy system distributor Solfex in January last year, giving it access to a market it had limited knowledge of before.

Over the next five years Travis Perkins is planning to invest somewhere between £130m and £170m annually, up from its previous levels of about £100m.

"These investments will be made across a broad range of growth and maintenance areas," Buffin added. "We're building a distribution centre in Warrington and planning to open up a new site for each of our divisions."

It will also look to house many of its brands on the same site – such as basing Toolstation offerings in Wickes stores, and Benchmarx showrooms in Travis Perkins branches.

Grouping its own brands together made sense from a cost and commercial point of view and made it more convenient for customers, Buffin said.

The company aims to make better use of customer insight and data in 2014 to provide the right services and products to customers, and so its marketing spend achieves the best return.

Travis Perkins features in Insider's War Chest 100, listing the companies in the Midlands with the most cash held at the bank. To subscribe to Midlands Business Insider magazine click here.


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