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Focus DIY stores to be closed

The administrators of Focus DIY, the private equity backed retailer, are expected to announce the closure of more than 120 stores on Wednesday with the loss of up to 3,000 jobs, dashing hopes that a buyer for the chain would be found.

Ernst & Young, which was appointed as administrator to Focus this month, is said to be close to appointing Gordon Brothers, a specialist retail agent, to liquidate stock and close the remaining shops. E&Y declined to comment on the closure plans, which is a blow to the private equity industry’s claim of being able to turn round struggling companies.

Focus’s former owner, US investment firm Cerberus Capital Management, blamed the consumer slowdown and a weak housing market for the chain’s downfall. E&Y has successfully sold tranches of Focus stores to B&Q owner Kingfisher, DIY chain Wickes and discount chain B&M Retail in recent weeks, saving about 900 jobs.

This process is understood to be continuing, but attempts to find a buyer for the chain have proved fruitless, and a rumoured management buy-out led by Bill Grimsey, former Focus chairman, has failed to materialise. Focus stores have continued to trade throughout the administration, and E&Y has reported record trading as customers snap up bargains.

Source : Claer Barrett -

25 May 2011
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