More than 1,000 jobs at risk as new Homebase owner axes stores

HOMEBASE CLOSURES

Up to 2,000 jobs will be put in jeopardy next week when Homebase reveals plans to axe around 60 stores in a sweeping overhaul.

Sky News said Hilco, which acquired Homebase from Australian group Wesfarmers for a nominal 1 pound in May, was expected to outline proposals for a so called Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring that would close roughly 60 of Homebase's 249 stores.

Hilco, which rescued HMV five years ago, is thought to have been working on plans to turnaround the financial fortunes of Homebase since buying it for just £1 from Wesfarmers, which paid £340m for the chain two years ago.

A CVA is an agreement that a company strikes with its creditors to reduce its debts and running costs in an attempt to keep the business operating, and has been widely used this year as retailers and dining chains including Prezzo, New Look, Byron, Toys R Us and Maplin have come under pressure.

It reported a total of 80 threatened branches include 18 which have closed in recent months.


If it is at the top end of that range, the closure programme will represent nearly one third of Homebase's estate.

The eventual figure could be higher, according to one insider.

Wesfarmers bought Homebase in 2016 and set about redeveloping Homebase stores under its Bunnings brand. The company had to write off more than £500m after ditching some of Homebase's most popular lines. That was replaced with a B&M earlier this month.

Hilco announced in June it was cutting 300 jobs at a Homebase support centre in Milton Keynes, saying it was part of its efforts to "start rebuilding Homebase's position in the United Kingdom market".

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