Last year Focus Do It All became the UK’s second largest DIY retailer, behind B&Q, when, in 2000, it acquired former rivals Wickes and Great Mills for £289m and £275m respectively, with internally-generated cash and backing from Duke Street Capital. The Cheshire-based company was founded by current executive chairman Bill Archer in 1985, and refused to follow its rivals into the crowded weekend builder market. Instead, it sought to attract family customers to its stores by installing pet sections for children and craftwork sections to cater for the female-driven boom in DIY interior design. The acquisitions of Wickes and Great Mills added 230 stores to its existing chain of 204. The company enjoyed profit growth of 84% a year, from £4.1m in 1996 to £25.5m in 1999, when sales reached £463.5m.
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