Focus Wickes aims for July IPO

The Duke Street Capital-backed firm is looking to raise £190m when it lists on the London Stock Exchange in the summer.

Focus Wickes, the UK’s second-largest DIY retailer, has confirmed that it plans to complete a listing on the stock market in the next two months. The announcement puts the firm ahead of Permira-backed Homebase, its largest rival, which is also considering a listing later this year.

The firm has confirmed that it is looking to raise £190m in new cash from the listing, although no indication has been given as to what size stake will be divested by the firm’s controlling shareholder, Duke Street Capital. 

Analysts have estimated the group to be worth between £1.2-1.4bn. Duke Street has invested around £150m in Focus Wickes since the late 1980s and is expected to sell a considerable portion of its 55 per cent stake.

Yesterday Focus Wickes said that sales had risen by 11.2 per cent for the six months to April 28. Total turnover rose 20.2 per cent to £764m, while operating profits increased from £36.4m to £47.2m. However, the firm recorded a pre-tax loss of £300,000 as a result of a £23m interest bill and £11m of restructuring costs.

Duke Street Capital made its original investment in Focus Group in 1987. In August 1998 Duke Street provided financial backing to acquire the loss making Do It All chain from The Boots Company for £68m, trebling the size of the business to 210 stores. In December 2000 Focus successfully acquired the Great Mills DIY retail chain from RMC for £285m to become the second largest DIY retailer in the UK.

Goldman Sachs and ING Barings are advising Focus Wickes on the listing.