Jobs for axe after DIY firm collapses

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TWO Focus DIY stores will close and 37 jobs are set to go after the company’s administrator failed to find a buyer for the business.

The shops – in Fareham and Petersfield – are holding closing down sales from tomorrow and will remain open until all stock has been sold off.

In total 3,000 retail jobs are facing the axe after accountants Ernst & Young began the process of shutting the 123 stores it has failed to sell since its appointment on May 5.

The collapse also leaves customers facing uncertainty as some 10,000 orders have yet to be delivered. Ernst & Young said it was dealing with customers on a case-by-case basis.

Stores in Fareham and Petersfield have been trading as normal since the administrator’s appointment, and a spokeswoman said they could remain open for several weeks while the rest of their stock is sold.

Joint administrator Simon Allport 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.’

Focus fell into administration earlier this month after it was hit by low consumer confidence and a weak housing market, which affected sales and margins. It has struggled in recent years against tough competition from rivals B&Q and Wickes.

A team is dealing with demands for outstanding customer orders, and those that have paid by credit card may be eligible to receive a refund. Customers can call 0800 436 436 or 01270 503454.