DIY chain staff to keep their jobs

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THE jobs of 24 employees at a collapsed DIY giant have been salvaged after the details of a multi-million takeover were finalised.

As announced last month, home improvement chain B&Q will take over the Thetford branch of Focus DIY which closed in May.

The fall of Focus had raised fears that 3,000 jobs would be lost nationwide, including those of staff in Thetford.

But B&Q confirmed in a statement this week that Focus DIY staff would be joining the new store after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) ratified the £23million deal.

Martyn Phillips, B&Q CEO of UK and Ireland, said: “We are delighted that the OFT has acted swiftly, meaning we will be able to bring new investment to communities like Thetford and safeguard more than 600 jobs nationally.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming Focus employees to B&Q and to becoming a part of local communities that we haven’t previously operated in.

“We’re on a mission to make DIY easier and more accessible for everyone and can’t wait to bring B&Q’s range of well priced products, services and advice to the local community.”

The Thetford store, on Forest Retail Park, will be rebranded ‘as soon as possible’ according to the chain – with some of the adapted stores set to open as soon as next month.

B&Q’s parent company, Kingfisher plc, agreed to buy 31 of Focus’ leasehold stores in May.

Kingfisher has since had to hold its breath as it waited for clearance from regulatory authorities and until negotiations with landlords had been completed.

The home development company, which owns more than 800 stores nationwide – said the takeover came as part of plans to accelerate expansion plans for the B&Q brand.