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Focus Wickes to go public

The scheduled flotation of the UK’s second largest group should have a positive effect on future expansion

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Focus Wickes is planning to go public. Analysts estimate that the company is worth between  £ 1.2 bn  and £ 1.5 bn (1.94 bn to 2.43 bn euro). The flotation is scheduled for the end of the third quarter of 2002 at the latest. Currently the Duke Street Capital investment trust holds 55 per cent of the group’s shares, company founder and chairman Bill Archer has about 20 per cent and finance director Geoff Wilson around three per cent. The shares are to be listed in London. 
Focus Wickes intends to develop new store formats.
According to a statement from executive chairman Bill Archer, the scheduled sale of shares should further plans for future expansion on the Repair, Maintenance and Improvement market.
As Jim Lowe, group director of corporate development at Focus Wickes, explained at the BHMMA Conference 2002 held near Coventry on 25 April, the group intends to open 30 new Focus stores and 15 Wickes outlets in the next three years. What is more, Focus Wickes intends to develop new store formats, introduce different sized DIY stores, improve the product portfolio and increase space productivity.
Further measures that Lowe says are being envisaged include harmonisation of the product ranges as well as a stronger emphasis on the area of private labels in the Focus stores; the Wickes outlets are to gain outdoor project centres and the number of ranges carried is to be significantly increased.
The introduction of straight display areas has already been implemented by Focus Wickes. Here it is possible for consumers to select their design and product, then have the goods delivered to them at home.
Lowe reckons on the UK DIY and garden market offering quite some opportunities in the next few years. As he says, “The 12.2 bn pound market (19.2 bn euro) grew by 8.7 per cent between 1996 and 2000, and sales growth of 6.3 per cent is forecast up to the year 2006.” Which makes this the fastest growing retail segment in the United Kingdom.
Jim Lowe at the BHHMA Conference.
The management of Focus Wickes assumes that the total repair, maintenance and improvement market recorded sales of approximately £ 21 bn (33 bn euro) in the year 2001. Here the professional segment is included together with the DIY and garden trade.
For Focus Wickes 2001 was a record year. At the end of the financial year (28 October 2001) group sales amounted to £ 1.462 bn (2.304 bn euro) in total, of which £ 812 mio (1.28 bn euro) represented sales of “softer” products and £ 650 mio (1.024 bn euro) went to…
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