Homebase owners may close up to 40 stores

Homebase owners may close up to 40 stores

Up to 40 Homebase stores could be closed by its Australian owner, putting up to 2,000 jobs at risk.

Wesfarmers paid £340m for the DIY chain in early 2016 and has been rebranding the stores under the Bunnings name.

But after a “disappointing” performance the Australian firm has put Homebase under review and expects it to lose £97m in the first half of 2018.

UK retailers are struggling in the face of rising inflation and fragile consumer confidence.

Several store chains have announced job cuts recently, including supermarket giants Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda.

Homebase’s rival, B&Q, last week said it was cutting 200 jobs at its head office in Hampshire as part of a cost-cutting drive.

  • Homebase bought by Australia’s Wesfarmers
  • B&Q to cut 200 head office jobs

Wesfarmers said it had written down the value of its Homebase chain by £454m as a result of its poor trading.

Its shares fell by up to 5% in trading on the Australian stock market. Kingfisher, the owner of Homebase’s UK rival, B&Q, saw its shares gain 2% on the hope that fewer Homebase/Bunnings stores would leave the field clearer for it.

“The Homebase acquisition has been below our expectations which is obviously disappointing,” Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott said.

“In light of this, a review of Bunnings UK has commenced to identify the actions required to improve shareholder returns,” he added.

Homebase has 250 stores across the UK and employs 12,000 people.

Wesfarmers will announce the result of its review in June, so staff will have to wait until then to find out which stores are to close.

However, the Australian firm said it had been encouraged by the performance of stores that had begun trading under the Bunnings name.

Source: BBC News

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