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Woodie's DIY owner taking ‘appropriate actions’ to manage costs, 9,000 staff on job retention schemes

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Gavin Slark, Grafton CEO

Gavin Slark, Grafton CEO

Gavin Slark, Grafton CEO

Woodie's DIY owner Grafton Group said it is availing of job retention scheme arrangements for almost 9,000 staff in the UK and Ireland in a bid to manage costs during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company employs around 11,000 in the two countries.

In a trading update this morning Grafton said the majority of its UK distribution branches and manufacturing plants were closed on 24 March and the distribution business in Ireland was “significantly scaled down” on 28 March.

In addition, since then trading in the Woodie's DIY business was suspended except for on-line transactions.

The company’s UK distribution business is currently trading at about 10pc of normal volumes from the provision of materials for emergency supplies and essential projects.

From 4 May, Grafton said many of its UK branches will return to more extended operations and will gradually expand their offering over the coming days and weeks. 

Grafton’s Irish distribution business is currently trading from all branches during restricted trading hours and is operating at around 15pc of normal volumes, though the company said trading “has been gradually increasing.” 

However, in the Netherlands, where it also operates, construction activity has largely continued and Grafton is currently trading at around 90pc of anticipated revenue.

The company said it remains “in a strong financial position with excellent liquidity.”

As at 24 April, Grafton had total liquidity of £562m primarily in accessible cash deposits. 

In addition, it said that approval has been received from the Bank of England, which permits drawdown under their Covid-19 Corporate Finance Facility providing further financial flexibility. 

No refinancing of debt is due until March 2023.

Gavin Slark, CEO of Grafton, said: "Grafton has a strong and geographically diverse portfolio of brands and very experienced management teams who are focused on protecting the Group's businesses and the interests of all stakeholders. 

The actions that we are taking are to ensure that we emerge from the crisis as a strong and vibrant business."

Online Editors