Fears over jobs as Homebase issues warning on store closures
Hundreds of jobs are at risk at Homebase stores in Northern Ireland as its Australian owner announces it will close up to 40 outlets throughout the UK.
Wesfarmers, which owns Homebase's parent firm Bunnings UK, said that trading at the chain has been "poor" since it acquired the retailer two years ago.
"In light of this, a review of Bunnings UK has commenced to identify the actions required to improve shareholder returns," Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott said.
The group, which has nine stores and employs around 400 people here, confirmed that between 20 and 40 of the worst performing Homebase stores could close down.
A spokesman for the company would not confirm which stores will be hit. He told the Belfast Telegraph: "It's too early to say and it's not appropriate to speculate at this point. Our team will always be the first to know of any updates."
Homebase operates 250 stores and employs 12,000 in total in the UK.
It is expected to drag Bunnings into an underlying loss of £97m for the first half of the year, Wesfarmers confirmed.
"We need to address under-performance in our portfolio that is detracting from positive performance in other areas, and the announcement today sets out decisive actions to achieve this," Mr Scott said.
Bunnings acquired Homebase in 2016 in a £340m deal and has been attempting to re-position the brand.
As well as revamping the stores and price cuts, Homebase is being rebranded as Bunnings.
January has seen thousands of retail jobs disappear after Sainsbury's, Tesco and Morrisons also swung the axe.