New store may be focus' of attention

PUBLISHED: 13:01 25 May 2006 | UPDATED: 13:30 04 May 2010

GIANT DIY chain Focus is promising a £7 million investment in Ely by opening a new store creating 40 jobs. The company, which employs almost 15,500 staff in 256 stores, wants to open in the city by next Spring. It is asking for permission to build a new w

GIANT DIY chain Focus is promising a £7 million investment in Ely by opening a new store creating 40 jobs.

The company, which employs almost 15,500 staff in 256 stores, wants to open in the city by next Spring.

It is asking for permission to build a new warehouse and garden centre with parking for 77 cars on the site of G and J Peck in Lisle Lane after it announced plans to move out to Witchford's Lancaster Way Business Park.

If given the go-ahead, Focus DIY expects it will take nine months to build the new store, creating jobs for customer assistants, warehouse and storage employees, specialist customer advisers, including kitchen and bathroom planners, and administrative and managerial staff.

It expects to recruit locally for all the full-time and part-time positions, except the store manager.

"The company's on-going strategy for the location of its Focus stores is to open new stores principally in similar small town locations," said a spokesman for its agents, RPS Planning. "The proposed store for Ely is part of that strategy and would meet a need clearly identified by the company.

"Focus aims to be the prime contender in terms of choice and convenience for DIY and gardening products in each of its local markets."

The new warehouse will be of a "clean-cut modern design" with a curving metal roof and metal cladding to the top of the brick walls.

Focus DIY, with its head office in Crewe, Cheshire, was launched in 1987 and in 2004 the company made £962 million.

In the last eight years it has grown considerably, buying out rival businesses Do It All, Great Mills DIY and Wickes DIY. It eventually sold Wickes to Travis Perkins last February.

East Cambridgeshire District Council planners are expected to make a decision on the new store by early August.

The spokesman for RPS Planning added: "Overall the proposed store will represent a £7 million investment. This level of investment in the town is to be welcomed, being by a national retailer and thus serving to raise commercial confidence generally."

Ely Perspective chairman, Cllr Philip Eden, welcomed the news.

He said: "This is the sort of store that people go out of Ely to visit. It will open up Forehill giving shoppers more reason to go down there."

- National chain, Costa Coffee, is pushing to come into the former QS shop on the corner of Market Street and the Baker's Oven is also keen to open in the city.

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