Focus DIY plan could help save some jobs

A NUMBER of jobs could be at risk in Skegness after the Focus DIY chain went into administration last Thursday.

But several jobs could be saved, amid reports of up to 31 stores being sold in a multi-million pound deal.

Administrators Ernst & Young completed an agreement last Friday (May 6) with Kingfisher Plc to sell up to 31 Focus Group DIY stores for a cash consideration of £23 million.

Simon Allport, Joint Administrator, said: “This deal represents an exceptional outcome for creditors of Focus Group DIY. The joint administrators will continue to trade all of the Group’s stores and will seek further offers for a going concern sale of the Group’s business and assets.”

The Skegness store employs 26 full and part-time staff and the initial decision came as news to them.

An employee at the store told the Standard: “We are all currently looking for other positions.

“We only knew about the decision when the customers knew. These things happen and it is sad news.”

The company announced on Thursday that Simon Allport, Tom Jack and Alan Hudson from Ernst & Young were appointed Joint Administrators of Focus DIY Group.

Simon Allport, Joint Administrator said: “Low consumer confidence and a very weak housing transaction market has impacted on Focus and placed considerable pressure on sales & margins.

“Despite Management’s actions to tightly control costs and restructure the operations, unfortunately it has not been possible for the business to continue to trade outside of insolvency.

“Focus will continue to trade as we look for a buyer for the Group and its stores. It is very much business as usual and we are grateful to all the Group’s loyal customers, suppliers and employees for their continued support.”

It is understood, that the Skegness Focus branch was one of the top sites in Lincolnshire and it soon could be converted into a B&Q site, which is part of the Kingfisher Plc group.

An employee added: “B&Q has bought 31 sites of which some of those include stores in Lincolnshire. All of the staff would have to re-apply for their jobs. Ultimately we will all be made redundant in a few weeks time.”

Focus operate over 175 stores throughout the UK and is a leading DIY and gardening retailer.

The chain currently employs 3,920 staff and is headquartered in Crewe.

It was founded in 1987 and has annual sales of circa £450 million.

The Focus website confirmed at time of print, that it was unable to release outstanding customer orders or provide refunds. It was no longer taking new orders to be collected in store or from home delivery.

It also stated that no new vouchers would be available for purchase but existing vouchers would still continue to be accepted as a method of payment.