Boots and Smith slice Do It All

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The Independent Online
BOOTS and WH Smith are to sell up to 100 Do It All stores as part of a reorganisation that will cost them pounds 36.5m each.

The rationalisation programme will cut the number of stores to 140, but the two companies hope this will give the chain an operating profit within two years. Analysts estimate that the chain lost pounds 25m- pounds 30m in the year to last February.

Do It All has already agreed the sale of 40 of its sites, although some of these are subject to planning permission to change their use, while negotiations are under way on some of the remaining 60.

Focus, the DIY retailer which is considering a flotation, is taking 10 of the stores and may buy more after it goes public. Other buyers include Courts, the furniture retailer, and the food groups Tesco, Asda and Aldi.

The pounds 73m cost of the rationalisation, reduced to pounds 60m after tax relief, includes pounds 31m for the cost of redundancies, rent costs on the stores and reverse premia - inducements to persuade buyers to take on the leases. Other costs include pounds 19m to write off fixtures and fittings and pounds 5m to cover expected losses until the disposals are completed.

Neither Boots nor Smiths would comment on how many jobs could be lost. Each store employs an average of 21 people - a total of 2,100 - but some purchasers, such as Focus, are taking on staff with the premises.

Do It All has been remodelling some of its stores and claims that this is improving their performance. It expects 80 of the stores to be converted to the new concept by next February, up from 60 now, and the remainder within two years.

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