DIY giant Homebase has laid off its horticultural buyers from its Swindon office the company has confirmed

The Adver has been told that 20 people left their jobs at the office at the start of this week, and while some senior staff remain, the office is scheduled to be shut in the autumn.

The news comes as the chain is reported to be about to announce closures of up to 80 stores nationwide.

As well as two retail stores, in north Swindon and Greenbridge, Homebase operates a major distribution centre in Lydiard Business Park, where the buyers of garden plants for its stores across the country were based.

A restructuring announced this summer will see that office close later in November and the work return to the company's Milton Keynes headquarters.

It is not believed that any staff will transfer from Swindon to the new office.

Homebase is reportedly set to press ahead with a second wave of store closures that could see up to 80 DIY outlets shut, putting between 1,500 to 2,000 jobs at risk as it is expected to file a Company Voluntary Agreement.

The Homebase chain was bought for £340m by Australian company Wesfarmers, which hoped to rebrand the stores in the UK. Wesfarmers sold the business earlier this year to Hilco, a retail turnaround specialist, for just £1.

The restructure which will see the Swindon buying office close followed that sale

Another struggling chain, House of Fraser, announced yesterday that it has been bought by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct Company, shortly after the department store chain’s bosses called in administrators.

In June it was announced that the Swindon store in the Brunel Centre was to close later this year as part of a proposed rescue deal.

With the collapse of that deal and the acquisition by Sports Direct, it is not clear at the moment whether the Swindon store might be saved.

Alan Hudson, joint administrator, said: “We have worked very closely with management, its advisors and creditors in recent weeks and are pleased that we have been able to successfully conclude a sale of the business in short timescales which preserves as many of the jobs of House of Frasers employees as possible. It was a challenging transaction to achieve in such a short period of time which will ensure continuity of the business and preserve the goodwill.”