Hanson closes 200 Powerhouse shops

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The Independent Online

Hanson announced yesterday that it was closing more than 200 outlets of its Powerhouse chain of electrical shops, threatening 2,300 jobs. Hanson blamed the decision on unsatisfactory trading and a highly competitive market, which have resulted in mounting losses. Powerhouse has been losing pounds 25m a year.

Hanson, which acquired the chain via its pounds 2.5bn takeover of Eastern Electricity last year, said it hoped to keep 120 shops open but will close the unprofitable high street stores. Glyn Moser, Powerhouse's chief executive, said: "This loss-making scenario cannot continue and the plan offers our remaining staff a secure and positive future."

The Labour Party criticised the closures. Ian McCartney, the shadow employment minister, said: "This announcement is symbolic of Tory Britain. Once again it's short-term boom in the boardroom and long-term bust for the workforce."

However the stores may yet find a buyer. Powerstore, which bought the Homepower chain from East Midlands and Yorkshire Electricity last year, may be interested. It is believed that the group tried to buy Powerhouse last year but lost out to Hanson.

Hanson declined to say how much a closure programme might cost. The group was previously owned by Eastern, Southern and Midlands Electricity, which last year announced a pounds 140m write-down on the chain.