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Travis Perkins buys 13 Focus stores

Builders Merchant Travis Perkins has bought 13 stores from the administrators of Focus DIY in a deal worth £8.4 million.

Travis Perkins said the sites would be converted to the Wickes format by the end of 2011, bringing the number of outlets in the chain to 216.

Crewe-based Focus formerly owned the Wickes chain but sold it to Travis Perkins in 2005 for £950m. Wickes said it would take on all 345 staff at the 13 sites being acquired.

Travis Perkins, which is based in Northampton and also owns plumbing supplies chain BSS, is one of the largest suppliers to the UK’s building and construction industry with a total network of more than 600 branches.

Travis Perkins chief executive Geoff Cooper said: “The acquisition of these 13 stores, cherry-picked from more than 100 potential locations, further expands our Wickes business and will help us to continue our gains in like-for-like and total market share.”

Focus, which operated 178 outlets across the UK, fell into administration earlier this month after it was hit by low consumer confidence and a weak housing market, which impacted sales and margins.

The chain has struggled in recent years against tough competition from rivals B&Q and Wickes.

Focus has been trading as normal while administrator Ernst & Young tried to sell the business or its stores in a bid to save 3,920 jobs.

Kingfisher recently bought 31 stores for £23m, which will be rebranded as B&Qs. But the 700 staff at the stores were told they would have to re-apply for their jobs.

Simon Allport, an administrator at Ernst & Young, said he was still in discussions with a number of parties to sell the remaining 134 stores.

He added that the stores had been trading at record levels after offering competitive prices.

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