North Walsham Focus DIY store closing today

North Walsham will be counting the cost after Focus DIY closes today, with the loss of 22 full and part-time jobs.

The Cromer Road store has been axed as part of a programme of closures across the region and the country by administrators for the beleaguered DIY chain.

The firm has published a time line for closures, which will see most shops shut down by the end of the month.

At North Walsham, shoppers have been flocking to the store since the closure announcement to take advantage of a clearance sale, with many items discounted by up to 70pc.

The recession and its effect on the housing market had hit the DIY chain hard in recent years.

It had 178 stores before entering administration on May 5 including branches at Wymondham, Thetford, Beccles, Sudbury, Haverhill, Thetford, North Walsham and Fakenham.

However, the administrators later managed to sell 31 stores to B&Q and Kingfisher, including Fakenham, Thetford, Sudbury and Haverhill. Several more stores were also sold to Wickes and B&M Bargains.

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But since then it has failed to find a buyer for its remaining outlets across the UK.

Michael Webb, manager of North Walsham Focus, said today that only one member of staff there had found alternative employment. The shop was empty and they were waiting for a phone call to tell them when to lock the door.

Last Thursday, Focus customers Justin Brown and Katie Marsh, of North Walsham, said they were not surprised that the store was closing because they felt prices were too expensive.

'They never seemed to do any offers and even with all that percentage off some of the stuff is cheaper at B&Q in Norwich,' said Ms Marsh.

'Hopefully, somewhere like Roys will expand into the building. It's ideally positioned, with lots of parking.'

Mr Brown speculated that the edge-of-town site might appeal to Tesco or Morrisons. North Walsham already has Sainsbury's and Lidl supermarkets.

Emma and Bryan Pearce, from Mundesley, were filling their boot with cut-price decorating items but said they previously only shopped at Focus if they ran out of an item which they needed urgently and couldn't get to B&Q.

'I'm a builder and whenever I had to come here it was empty,' said Mr Pearce. 'You paid through the nose for stuff.' He said he once saw a plumbing item 'in fancy packaging' priced at �9 in Focus which he later bought for �2.40 at a local hardware shop.

Dave Robertson, deputy mayor of North Walsham and chairman of its planning committee, said they were deeply disappointed that the branch had not been among those sold off, which would have saved jobs. It was a big building to have empty on the outskirts of the town and its future use was uncertain, Mr Robertson added.

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