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Travis nails Wickes for 950m

Source : The Guardian

Builders' merchant Travis Perkins yesterday unveiled a £950m deal to buy the DIY retail chain Wickes.

The 172-store chain is part of the privately owned Focus Wickes group, which recently called in investment bankers to examine its strategic options.

Travis, which sells materials through 740 stores, said it expected the combined group to have a 10% share of the wider UK building materials market.

Focus Wickes acquired Wickes - then consisting of 131 stores - in September 2000. Since then it has grown through store roll-outs, the conversion of Focus stores and the development of the Wickes Extra format.

The Focus side of the business operates from 256 outlets and is the fourth largest DIY retailer in the UK.

The private equity owners of the business - Apax Partners and Duke Street Capital - have pledged to open more stores following the disposal, which is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

Focus Wickes founder and chief executive Bill Archer said: "The two divisions are well-placed to continue their development within separate organisations. DIY continues to be high-growth and resilient. Since 1998 Travis Perkins has added 461 branches after taking on chains including Keyline, Sharpe & Fisher, Broombys, CCF, City Plumbing and Jayhard.

Travis said it expected substantial savings from the tie-up, in particular from the streamlining of buying and distribution processes. It will put in place a new bank facility of £1.2bn to fund the deal.

The new company should have an estimated workforce of around 15,000 people. Travis Perkins, which has 9,000 employees, has not disclosed whether any jobs will go as a result of the deal.

17 December 2004
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