Jobs under threat at Homebase

Up to 300 staff at Argos Retail Group (ARG) are said to face redundancy as part of a move by owner GUS to cut costs.

GUS has been eying potential cost savings at its retail business since buying DIY chain Homebase from Permira in 2002. However, until now, only a few minor personnel changes have been made. Likely cuts are said to centre on Homebase's Wallington head office.

The DIY chain's managing director Paul Loft, who was not available for comment, has been instructed to keep the news top secret, according to a well-placed source.

GUS is understood to be mulling opportunities to merge selected functions within ARG, based in Manchester, or to outsource to third parties. An ARG spokeswoman refused to confirm or deny the redundancies.

There has been a swathe of job losses across the retail sector in recent months, against a background of increasing competition.

Boots, Debenhams and M&S have each axed hundreds of jobs. WHSmith was expected to do the same as Retail Week went to press. Morrisons and Littlewoods have also made cuts following recent mergers.

Separately, earlier this week, GUS announced plans to shed 850 staff at its financial services arm Experian, after losing business to low-cost Indian rivals.