Staff hang on as DIY giant keeps store

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STAFF at the Thetford branch of a collapsed DIY chain can breathe easily after it was announced that their store would survive.

Adminstrators Ernst & Young were called in to deal with the fallout from the closure of Focus DIY at the start of May.

The collapse raised fears that up to 3,000 jobs were to be lost nationwide - with staff at the Thetford branch in Forest Retail Park among those threatened with the axe.

At the beginning of the month, Kingfisher plc - owners of B&Q - announced they had agreed to buy up to 31 of Focus’ leasehold properties in a £23million cash deal.

But staff had to wait until last Thursday to find out if they had survived the cull.

Thetford was among the list, and is in line to be converted into a B&Q, with current staff to be retained.

Ian Cheshire, Kingfisher Group’s Group Chief Executive, said the move was subject to a number of regulatory obligations.

“The final number of stores is dependent on clearance from the regulatory authorities and satisfactory negotiations with landlords.

“A swift conclusion to this process would enable B&Q to take on all the staff at these stores.”

Upon the initial purchase of the stores on May 6, Mr Cheshire said: “This is a good opportunity for us to accelerate our previously announced plans to expand B&Q into carefully targeted UK locations where we currently have no store representation.”

Kingfisher owns more than 800 stores worldwide.