Irish Homebase operation gets €11m cash boost
The Irish arm of Homebase, the UK company that was sold by Home Retail Group to Australian retailer Westfarmers in January, has received an €11.5m cash injection from its immediate British parent.
Filings at the Company Registration Office show that the money was received by the Irish subsidiary earlier this month.
Homebase, like other homeware and DIY retailers operating in Ireland, struggled during the downturn.
In 2013, the Irish Homebase operation was placed in Examinership. The home and garden business had 15 outlets in Ireland at the time, employing 558 people.
At the time, Homebase pointed out that its turnover had fallen from €67.6m in the 12 months to March 2006, to €46.3m during the year to March 2013. It closed two stores under the plan to exit Examinership. In the 52 weeks to the end of February 2015, the Irish Homebase business generated revenue of €43.7m, down from €45.3m in the previous financial year. It closed two years in the intervening period, however, and like-for-like sales were 4.4pc higher.
The gross margin rate was 3.9 percentage points lower, however, primarily due to the weaker euro-sterling exchange rate in the period.
It made an operating loss of €7.7m in the financial year to February 2015 and a pre-tax loss of €9m, compared to an operating loss of €3.2m the previous year and a pre-tax loss of €4.6m.
Homebase was acquired by Westfarmers in January for £340m. Westfarmers owns Bunnings, one of Australia's largest suppliers of outdoor living and DIY products. It also owns the Coles supermarket chain in Australia.
Filings for the Irish Homebase business show that Australians Peter Davis and Rodney Boys were both made directors of the firm in February.
Mr Davis was the chief operating officer of Bunnings, and was named chief executive of Homebase following the acquisition.
Westfarmers executive Rodney Boys was named finance director of Homebase.