Focus Do It All‘s £285m cash purchase of Great Mills has prompted trade fears that the enlarged group will accelerate DIY superstores’ erosion of small merchants’ business.

The acquisition of Great Mills from RMC plc, three months after the purchase of Wickes for £289m, creates a DIY combine with a turnover of £1.5bn and 430 stores nationwide. The new grouping will control 15% of the UK’s retail home improvement market and be second only in size to B&Q.

The move is thought likely to have an impact on small merchants counting on retail sales for a sizeable proportion of their turnover.

Keith Fryer, director of London merchant T Brewer, said: ‘For us it will have no impact because we specialise at the larger end. But it will be different for those smaller merchants that are heavily into retail and the small tradesman sector – because that is where the impact is going to be.’

James Latham Ltd managing director Roger Latham agreed: ‘If it is going to have an effect, it is going to be on the smaller independent. Previously the DIY stores have always grown at the expense of the smaller merchants.’

Concerns were also expressed about the leverage that additional buying power will bring Focus Do It All/Great Mills. FDIA chairman and chief executive Bill Archer told shareholders that the new business ‘will fully exploit the opportunities of being a powerful force in the market’.

Michael Charlton, sales and marketing director of AJ Charlton & Sons, said: ‘This will encourage more imports of cheaper softwood and make prices that much keener.’

John Griffiths, managing director of Alsford Timber and a former director of Wickes, said: ‘If they expand Wickes, which is designed to deliver heavyside to jobbing builders, then that will have quite a significant impact.’