Focus DIY

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Focus DIY (For DIY and Gardening)
Former type Retail, DIY
Industry Retail, DIY
Fate Administration
Founded 1987
Defunct 22 July 2011
Headquarters Crewe, England
Products Decorating, tools, building materials, kitchen and bathrooms, lighting and electrical. Gardening, outdoor and indoor plants.
Focus DIY store in Belper, Derbyshire

Focus DIY was a privately owned chain of DIY stores in the UK. It served the consumer DIY market sector, and most stores had some form of garden centre.

By 2011, it was the fourth largest DIY retailer in the UK, although at its peak, it had been the second largest DIY retailer in the UK. Its main competitors were B&Q, Homebase and Wickes.

The company operated 178 stores in the UK with 3000 employees, but had been running losses every year since 2007. The year up to 2011, the company saw a loss of £25m[1]

On 4 May 2011 the Focus Group announced that it was going to enter administration; the following group companies went into administration; Focus (DIY) Limited, Focus (Investments) Limited, Payless DIY Limited, Payless Properties Limited, Do It All Limited and Do It All (Holdings) Limited.

The company entered administration on Thursday 5 May 2011 with Ernst & Young appointed as administrators. As no buyer was found for the chain as a whole, the company was put into a wind down process. During this period the administrators were able to sell 55 stores to B&Q, Wickes and B&M Bargains. The remaining 123 stores were closed, in intervals, beginning on Sunday 19 June until the final closures on Friday 22 July 2011.


The company had its origins in the early 1980s when Mike Williams launched Focus Homecentres for AAH Holdings plc. In 1987 Focus Homecentres was acquired by Choice Group Limited.[2] The new company's shareholders included Mike Williams, Bill Archer and Greg Stanley (who had previously built up and sold the DIY chain Fads) Focus increased its market share with a mix of both acquisitions and organic growth including the purchase of the Do It All DIY chain from Boots in 1998. Both chains were rebranded as "Focus Do It All".

The company added a further 131 stores with the purchase of Wickes in 1999, a 'no frills' DIY chain which focused on building supplies to the trade, while the existing Focus company had targeted the light end of the market. The two store formats were thought to complement each other and so were retained as separate entities. The group became known as "Focus Wickes".

In 2000, the group expanded again with the purchase of the Great Mills chain from RMC Group. Another 98 stores were added to the portfolio. The majority of these stores were re-branded as Focus, except for some larger stores which became Wickes. By 2002, through rapid expansion and acquisition, Focus had become the second biggest DIY chain in Britain with 430 stores and sales of over £1.66 billion.[3]

In 2005, the Wickes business and stores were sold to Travis Perkins [4] for £950m, making a tidy return on the £350m initial investment.[3]

By January 2007, it was clear that the company had run into financial difficulties; it was close to breaching its banking covenants and struggling under debts built up over the acquisition spree in the preceding years. The DIY market as a whole had experienced a two-year drop in sales[3] and Focus blamed "challenging" market conditions for the difficulties.[5] Focus appointed bankers Rothschild to advise it on a potential sale of the business.[6]

The new Focus[edit]

Focus DIY store in Keighley, West Yorkshire

Cerberus Capital purchased Focus DIY for £1 in June 2007 and appointed Bill Grimsey, formerly CEO of Wickes, as CEO.[4]

In an attempt to tackle the financial problems the owners restructured the business, and injected fresh capital in the form of £200m via loans by the owners Cerberus Capital, Bank of Scotland and GMAC.[1] Costs were slashed and under-performing stores were either closed or sold to other retails including Homebase, Wickes and Sainsbury's. In 2009 a programme of new store formats and further cost cutting was undertaken.[1]

In February 2011, ASDA announced the purchase of 6 stores from Focus DIY, which were converted into supermarkets later that year.

By early 2011, the number of stores had gradually been reduced from 256 in 2007 to 178.[4][5][4]

Supply chain[edit]

In November 2008 Focus had one main distribution centre, in Tamworth. The Tamworth centre was acquired with the Do It All business in 1998. The closure of the Severnside distribution centre was announced in October 2008, citing adverse financial circumstances.[7]


Focus DIY store in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire

On Thursday 5 May 2011, it was announced that owners Cerberus Capital had placed Focus into administration after failed attempts to find a rescue deal. Ernst & Young placed Simon Allport, Alan Hudson and Tom Jack as joint administrators at midnight.[8]

On Friday 6 May 2011, it was announced that B&Q had bought 31 stores in cash for £23m with a plan to refit the properties and open them as B&Q stores in July, with Focus employees transferring to the stores.[9]

In May 2011 Wickes and B&M Bargains purchased some stores, with interest from The Range[10] and Morrisons.[11]

Ernst & Young announced the closure of the remaining 120 stores which resulted in up to 3,000 job losses.

At the time of the appointment of the Administrators, the 178-strong retail chain collapsed owing businesses, shareholders and funders around £1Bn.[12] The sale of assets has so far generated £70M [1] leaving most creditors including the Inland Revenue out of pocket.

The final store to cease trading was in Gillingham Dorset on Friday 22 July 2011.

The Focus DIY brand was bought by the owners of Victoria Plumb in 2011.[13]


External links[edit]