DSC plans Focus part-exit

The collapse of the IPO market may persuade Duke Street Capital to sell part of its interest in the DIY retailer to a rival private equity firm.

European buyout firm Duke Street Capital is reportedly planning to realise part of its investment in UK DIY retailer Focus Wickes by selling a stake to a rival private equity firm.

Duke Street is planning to sell about half of its 55 per cent interest in the company, the UK’s largest privately-held retailer, for around £300m, according to UK weekend press reports.

Focus Wickes was one of a raft of private equity-controlled businesses, including Permira-owned DIY chain Homebase, which had shelf plans to list on a stock exchange when public market sentiment failed to stabilise earlier this year. A reduction in the firm’s interest in Focus Wickes is likely to form part of a financial restructuring which will see the retailer further increase its £324m debt.

A number of private equity houses and trade buyers are thought to be interested in acquiring an interest in the business, which has been a successful long-term investment for DSC. The firm has reportedly spoken to Apax Partners, CVC and BC Partners.

Focus Wickes has 427 outlets across the UK and had sales of £1.46bn for 2001 with operating profits of £106m, a more than threefold increase since 2000.