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Homebase up for sale again

DIY chain Homebase, which has stores across Suffolk, is being put on sale once again following a recent major overhaul to revive its fortunes.

The group’s owners – turnaround specialist Hilco – are looking to secure the deal after getting Homebase back on track and amid a booming home improvement market.

It comes just over two years after the DIY and garden centre firm was sold to Hilco for the nominal price of £1 after a disastrous spell under the ownership of Australian group Wesfarmers.

Homebase Bury Google Maps (43088273)
Homebase Bury Google Maps (43088273)

Homebase said: “Having built an excellent foundation, Homebase is moving out of its turnaround phase and entering into an exciting new chapter of growth.

“Now is the right time for us to be starting conversations with potential new owners to accelerate our plan.”

Wesfarmers bought the chain for £340 million in 2016 but its attempts to import its Bunnings home improvement brand to the UK by converting Homebase stores failed dramatically.

Homebase has Suffolk stores in Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury, Newmarket, Felixstowe and Lowestoft.

Hilco has since carried out a widespread overhaul, shutting under-performing outlets, axing head office jobs, securing rent-reductions and slashing costs to recover from steep losses.

It is understood the sales process will kick off in the coming days, with initial details set to be sent to prospective buyers – including other retailers and private equity.

The group is thought to be hoping to secure new ownership by next Easter.

A stock market listing is also said to be one of the options on the table.

The move comes as DIY stores have enjoyed buoyant trading as Britons have turned to home improvement projects during the coronavirus lockdown.

If a sale is achieved, it would see the fourth owner for Homebase in just five years.

The chain now has 151 shops with around 5,600 employees.

But at its peak it had 250 stores and 12,000 staff

Homebase returned to profit in 2019 with underlying earnings of £3.2 million against losses of £114.5 million in 2018

It also bought retailer Bathstore out of administration in July last year.

The group now wants to expand, with plans to open around 15 new stores over the next two years in cities and regions where it does not already have a Homebase store.

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