Homebase hires Citigate as rumours of flotation mount

DIY chain Homebase has drafted in financial and corporate PR specialist Citigate Dewe Rogerson following City speculation that the group is to float for nearly £1bn later this year.

Homebase, which is the UK's third largest DIY retailer behind B&Q and Focus, confirmed in a statement this week that Citigate was appointed following a competitive pitch, believed to have involved two other agencies.

Citigate international MD Andy Cornelius will lead the financial brief, reporting directly to Homebase CEO Rob Templeman and CFO Chris Woodhouse, who both joined in March 2001.

Cornelius said the brief involved strategic advice and general corporate and financial PR support.

'We'll be advising the board on all aspects of national business media, financial PR and providing strategic communications advice,' said Cornelius.

'It's a very wide-ranging, long-term brief to help them move forward,' he added.

The move comes as rumours mount of a stock market flotation for Homebase that could value the group at £900m. But it is believed an IPO would not go ahead until later this year.

The chain is also on the hunt for an in-house PRO to support PR manager Hilary Grist, who reports to brand communications manager Karen Gray.

A Homebase spokesman said the group's two-year incumbent consumer agency GCI, which reports to Grist, will continue to be retained.

Homebase handed GCI its six-figure consumer business in 2000 following a change in brand strategy, triggered by its sale to venture capital group Schroder Ventures, now known as Permira (PRWeek, 26 January 2001).

Homebase has 274 stores across the UK - 15 fewer than at the time of its sale. The group last year sold five stores to B&Q as part of the buy-out deal and closed a further ten.

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