Suffolk and Essex: Ray of hope for Focus DIY workers in Sudbury, Haverhill and Maldon following administration

STAFF at three branches of Focus DIY in Suffolk and Essex retain hope of keeping their jobs when the stores close, it emerged yesterday, but those at four more face the prospect of redundancy.

Administrators from accountancy firm Ernst & Young (E&Y), who were appointed at Focus earlier this month, confirmed on Wednesday this week that closing down sales would begin at all 178 of the struggling company’s stores over the Bank Holiday weekend.

But they declined to identify which of the retailer’s outlets were among 55 for which buyers had been found, citing reasons of confidentiality.

Yesterday, however, E&Y confirmed that the Focus store in Maldon, where 33 people currently work, is among 13 to be acquired by Travis Perkins and rebranded under its Wickes format, with all employees expected to transfer.

E&Y also revealed that the Focus stores in Sudbury and Haverhill, which employ 22 and 33 people respectively, are among 31 branches being acquired by B&Q owner Kingfinsher, although B&Q says that staff will have to reapply for their jobs.

A further 11 Focus stores are to be acquired by homewares retailer B&M, but none of these are in East Anglia.

The announcement from E&Y means that no buyer has been found for the Focus stores at Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich (which has a workforce of 27), Beccles (which has 20 staff), Harwich (17) or Lowestoft (15).

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Employees at these stores, together with around 3,000 staff at other Focus branches around the country and its head office in Crewe, face redundancy.

Following their appointment earlier this month, the administrators said Focus had been suffering from low consumer confidence and the weak housing market, which had placed pressure on both sales and margins.

Customers with queries about outstanding orders should call 0800 436436 or email .