Powerhouse puts the for sale sign up over 35 electrical retail stores

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The Independent Online

Powerhouse, the electrical retailer spawned from the remnants of the old regional electricity groups, is looking to sell at least 35 stores in a move thought to be aimed at easing cash flow restraints.

Industry sources said the company, which owns 240 shops, had asked landlords to change their rental terms to allow it to pay rent monthly rather than quarterly. It is thought to be reviewing its entire estate.

Powerhouse, which was briefly part of the Hanson conglomerate in the early Nineties, doubled in size in 2001 after buying 98 loss-making stores from Scottish Power.

A spokesperson for Powerhouse Retail declined to comment on whether planned store disposals were part of a cash-raising drive. She said that in "such a tough retail climate" it made sense to review "which stores are most profitable and where rates and rent outweigh the commercial benefits of a location". But she denied the company had plans to sell any of its large stores, adding that six new superstore openings were planned by the end of 2003.

"Selling and buying of stores is part of our strategic property review, conducted annually and continually," she said.

The company, run by Derrick Bloomfield, was launched as an independent electrical retailer after a management buyout. Its last report and accounts show that in the year to 30 March 2002 it made a loss after taxation of £3.3m. Its financial report warned that acquiring Scottish Power's retail outlets "has had a short-term detrimental effect on the company's profitability". There were no recent trading figures available yesterday, the company said.

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