303 job losses as Homebase store support centre in Milton Keynes closes

    The DIY chain, which was recently sold by Wesfarmers to restructuring specialist Hilco for a token sum of £1, said it was restructuring operations now that Wesfarmers' Bunnings brand was on the way out.

    Sky News reports that The statement by Homebase said: "The changes reflect the need to align the store support centre with the operational and strategic changes that are being implemented.

    "These necessary changes will ensure that Homebase is better prepared to meet the demands of the UK's challenging retail environment.

    "The store support centre had served both Homebase and Bunnings brands prior to Wesfarmers' sale of the business.

    "With the withdrawal of the Bunnings brand it was necessary to realign the team to best serve a single, independent brand."

    Bunnings, an Australia-founded, household hardware firm, opened a number of stores selling outdoor and DIY products in southeast England, after buying Homebase in 2016.

    But, following the Hilco sale, all the stores are now due to rebrand to the Homebase name.

    The job losses marked the first major decision on staffing levels under Hilco ownership - which could yet result in the closure of unprofitable stores as the UK retail sector continues to battle high costs and a tough economy.

    A string of big names have gone to the wall this year - including Toys R Us UK and Maplin.

    Others, such as House of Fraser, have sought rescue deals to cut their costs.

    Damian McGloughlin, the Homebase CEO, added: "We have not taken this decision lightly, but decisive action is required to start rebuilding Homebase's position in the UK market.

    "We will be providing as much support as we can to help those affected through this difficult time."

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