B&Q ready to focus on move into Leven

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NERVOUS staff at Leven’s rundown Focus store have been told local jobs are secured – just in the nick of time.

Only 10 days before the Riverside Road store was due to pull down the shutters for good, the Office of Fair Trading approved a £23 million takeover deal by DIY giants B&Q.

Parent company Kingfisher Plc has announced Leven’s new B&Q store – which currently employs 18 Focus staff – could be open as soon as next month.

Ian Cheshire, Kingfisher’s Group chief executive, said: “We are delighted that we will be able to safeguard more than 600 UK jobs by bringing the B&Q store format to parts of the country in which we currently do not operate,” he said.

“I would like to thank the OFT for acting swiftly, enabling so many jobs to be saved.”

The OFT found that 20 stores being bought by B&Q did not create any competition problems but the other 10 stores, which included Leven, raised concerns.

A spokesperson said: “A core issue with regard to the remaining 10 areas was whether the OFT could be totally satisfied that there was no less anti-competitive alternative to this merger.

“After assessing the available evidence, and following discussions with the administrator, investment bankers, Focus’ former senior management and its owners, possible purchasers and other relevant parties, the OFT concluded there was no alternative purchaser which would result in a less-competitive outcome.”

If the OFT had failed to reach a decision by July 18 the existing workforce at Leven would have faced redundancy.

in 2005, Focus was one of the first stores to move into the newly re-developed Hawkslaw Business complex. and employed 33 people at the time.

It went into administration on May 5 with a pre-tax loss of £21 million – despite enjoying annual sales of £450 million.