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Getting ship-shape waiting for the upturn

"Everything we're trying to do is about self-help, doing everything we can do for ourselves rather than be reliant on market recovery," Grafton chief executive Gavin Slark told the Irish Independent last month.

Part of the fix-it job included placing its DIY Atlantic Homecare subsidiary into examinership in June. The object of the exercise was to negotiate lower rents for the four Atlantic Homecare and nine Woodies outlets that were part of the unit. Grafton also owns another 27 Woodies stores that weren't part of the process.

But with that aim now achieved, Grafton is back to playing a long waiting game.

The DIY business, which last year accounted for just 11pc of the group's €2.04bn in revenue, is subject to the dual vagaries of the general economic climate and the meteorological one. Neither have been kind in the past few years.

Woodies and Atlantic Homecare stores racked up €1m in losses on garden furniture alone in the first half of this year with shoppers shunning products as the country experienced one of the worst summers ever.

Securing the reduced rents isn't a cure-all, but chipping away at high costs the overall business in the best position it can be in to take advantage of an upswing whenever it comes. It won't be any time soon, but the some day the tide will turn.

Irish Independent