HAILSHAM: Rival firm steps in to save jobs

Focus store Hailsham closing down. May 31st 2011 E22033M
Focus store Hailsham closing down. May 31st 2011 E22033M
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JOBS at Hailsham’s Focus store have been saved by rival home improvement firm Wickes.

Around 30 people in Hailsham faced redundancy when it was announced that DIY and gardening retailer Focus had gone in to administration.

Focus employs 31 people at its Hailsham store, 150 in Sussex and around 3,900 nationwide.

Many of its employees will be out of a job but the Hailsham branch is set to become a Wickes store.

The store at Hailsham Retail Park, Diplocks Way, started its closing down sales at the weekend.

Heavy discounts are expected on all the stock in the weeks to come.

The store will then close and be rebranded before opening again as Wickes.

Cllr Jeff Bentley-Astor, mayor of Hailsham, said, “The economic downturn has taken a lot of businesses down with it and the announcement that Hailsham’s Focus branch is closing is sad news.

“It is excellent news, however, to hear that the store is being taken over by another national home improvement product chain, resulting in minimal job losses with the potential to create additional much-needed local jobs in the future.”

Nationally, administrators Ernest & Young have been called in to take over the running of Focus after its debts spiralled out of control.

It has also struggled to compete with rival home improvement stores, such as B&Q and Wickes, over the years and it was recently announced the company would be shutting all its stores.

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.”