Bottom Line: DIY problem

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The Independent Online
THE City has at last been told how many Do It All stores are to be sold, and how much the exercise will cost. The key question, however, remains: when will Boots and WH Smith start earning a decent return on the chain?

The pounds 5m of provisions for future trading losses should help the current year's results although, in the context of a likely pounds 26m loss last year, they are hardly significant. The two companies say the 140 remaining stores will form a profitable core - but not for another year at least. But there must be a question mark over whether a chain with less than half the number of stores of B&Q can buy enough to be a serious competitor in an increasingly competitive market.

The announcement also failed to address the long- term future of the chain. While Do It All looks equally out of place in both Boots and Smiths, an outside buyer is unlikely until the reorganisation is showing results. And by then, Boots may feel it is worth taking on.

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