Homebase up for sale after recent overhaul

DIY chain Homebase 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.

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.

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 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 155 shops and 15 Bathstore outlets with more than 6,600 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.

Hilco also closed two of Homebase’s six distribution centres and secured a £95 million lending facility from Wells Fargo.

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