Up to 3,000 Focus DIY jobs at risk as stores close

Paint tins and paint brush
Image caption Focus had annual sales of about £450m but competition in the DIY market was tough

Up to 3,000 jobs are under threat at the Focus DIY retail chain after administrators said they have failed to find a buyer for the group.

Ernst & Young said it was continuing talks with possible buyers of some of the remaining 123 stores, but that the process of job cuts looks set to start.

E&Y has sold 55 stores in three separate deals since Focus went into administration earlier this month.

A liquidation of stock will begin this weekend, E&Y said in a statement.

Simon Allport, E&Y joint administrator, said, "We have been working hard to sell the business as a going concern and to maximise value for creditors.

"While we have been successful in securing up to 900 jobs from the sale of 55 stores in three separate deals, finding a buyer for the whole of the business has not been possible.

"UK retailers are facing one of the most challenging retail environments in recent times and the DIY sector has become highly competitive, with only the strongest players being able to thrive and survive."

In a statement, E&Y added: "While the administrators are continuing negotiations for the sale of a number of stores across the group, the stock liquidation is likely to result in a number of Focus stores closing with remaining employees going through a redundancy process."

Earlier this month, DIY retailer B&Q bought 31 Focus stores and rival Wickes purchased 13. Geoff Cooper, chief executive of Wickes' parent company Travis Perkins, warned that the DIY sector was "over-supplied".

Private equity-owned Focus called in the administrators after defaulting on its credit facility, blaming the difficult economic environment and a weak housing market.

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