Homebase sold for just £1: Four examples of other venture fails

Bunnings HomebaseWith the news that Homebase has been sold for just £1 only two years after being initially bought for £340m, BLM takes a look at other examples of when an expansion, acquisition or merger has gone wrong.

Fresh & Easy

In 2007, British supermarket chain Tesco moved into the United States by opening a chain of small format grocery stores in Arizona, California and Nevada named Fresh & Easy.

In 2013, after Fresh & Easy announced it was losing $22m (£16bn) a month, Tesco announced the sale of the chain to Yucaipa Companies at a cost to Tesco of £150m (approximately $235m).

Including the loan, payoffs for about 400 permanent staff and store closures, this took the total cost of its failed US adventure to nearly £2bn.

America Online and Time Warner

In 2001, America Online acquired billionaire Ted Turner’s Time Warner in a megamerger for $165bn (£124bn) – the largest business combination up until that time. Respected executives at both companies sought to capitalize on the convergence of mass media and the internet.

Shortly after the mega-merger, however, the dot-com bubble burst, which caused a significant reduction in the value of the company’s AOL division. In 2002, the company reported an astonishing loss of $99 billion, the largest annual net loss ever reported.


Masters Home Improvement was an Australian home improvement chain operated by retailer Woolworths. It was established in 2011  as a way for Woolworths to enter the hardware retail market, which had been historically dominated by Bunnings Warehouse, owned by rival Wesfarmers.

Australian supermarket chain, Woolworths, reported its first loss in 23 years during 2016 after writing off A$3.2bn (£1.8bn) on its failed DIY chain, Masters.

The venture was ultimately a failure for Woolworths, causing Woolworths to exit the hardware market, with all stores being closed and sold off by 11 December 2016. It was also regarded as one of the biggest disasters in Australian retail history.


It seemed to be a match made in heaven when Microsoft bought Nokia in a deal worth €5.44bn (£4.74bn) in 2014. However, the affiliation only lasted just two years and in 2016, not a single one of the 4,700 employees that transferred to Microsoft in the transaction were still employed by the company.

Microsoft, that year, sold the feature-phone business to the Finnish startup HMD Global and Taiwanese giant Foxconn for $350m (£263m).

This was a fall from grace for Nokia, who as a brand was worth $300bn (£226bn) at its height.