Thetford DIY store has new owners

FOCUS DIY in Thetford is believed to have been sold to Kingfisher, the London-based parent company of B&Q and ScrewFix.

It is thought that the sale also includes stores in Fakenham, Sudbury, Spalding and Haverhill, and is worth �23m, although administrators Ernst & Young declined to comment.

The company was appointed as administrators last week after Focus DIY was hit by the effects of the weak housing market.

The firm has a total of 180 stores, which remain open, and employs around 4,000 staff.

Simon Allport, one of the joint administrators, said that the deal represented an “exceptional outcome for creditors”.

“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,” he added.

Focus DIY, which competes with larger rivals B&Q and Homebase, employs 3,919 people at 178 stores.

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Norfolk branches of Focus are at Wymondham, Beccles, Thetford, North Walsham and Fakenham.

Focus DIY was asked for comment but at publication had not responded.

A statement on its website said: “Following notification of an event of default under the senior credit facility, and a realisation that there were no alternatives that could be explored any further, Focus directors have come to the conclusion that to protect the interests of creditors they have no choice but to seek protection through filing a notice of intention to appoint administrators.”

The company underwent a controversial company voluntary arrangement in 2009 when it sought to reduce its rent burden from landlords as it battled for its future.

The company’s website last week said it was unable to take orders online.

The company was founded by Bill Archer and a business partner in 1987, with six stores in the Midlands and the North of England. It grew through a number of acquisitions, including Do It All in 1998 and Great Mills in 2000, before rebranding as Focus.

In September 2000 it acquired Wickes, which targeted trade customers, but this was sold to Travis Perkins in 2005.

Private equity firm Cerberus bought Focus in 2007, reportedly paying just �1. Focus was heavily indebted at the time and Cerberus said it would pay off the firm’s �174m of debts.