Hundreds of Wilko stores to close after rescue fails

Hundreds of Wilko stores to close after rescue fails

Hundreds of Wilko stores are set to close and thousands of staff will lose their jobs after talks to buy it collapsed without a rescue deal last night.

The 93-year-old chain tumbled into administration this month – putting 400 stores and 12,000 jobs at risk.

Administrators at PwC have been poring over potential rescue bids for the past week. But last night they said there were no offers for the entire group.

The 93-year-old high street chain tumbled into administration this month – putting 400 stores and 12,000 jobs at risk

PwC insisted discussions continue ‘with those interested in buying parts of the business’ – raising hopes that some sites and staff may be saved.

Joint administrators Jane Steer, Zelf Hussain and Edward Williams of PwC said: ‘While discussions continue with those interested in buying parts of the business, it’s clear that the nature of this interest is not focused on the whole group.

‘Sadly, it is therefore likely that there will be redundancies and store closures in the future and it has been necessary to update employee representatives.

‘In the immediate term, all stores remain open, continue to trade and staff continue to be paid. Contrary to speculation, there are currently no plans to close any stores next week.’

Potential buyers are thought to include rivals B&M European Value Retail, Poundland, The Range and Home Bargains.

The demise of Wilko marks another bleak day for the High Street following the collapse of newsagent McColl’s last year before its rescue by Morrisons.

In recent years, the High Street has lost names such as Debenhams, Topshop owner Arcadia group and Mothercare owing to the shift to online shopping and side-effects of lockdowns.

‘The loss is a genuine blow for high streets,’ said Sophie Lund-Yates at Hargreaves Lansdown. ‘Unfortunately this is reminiscent of the loss of Woolworths, it’s a heritage brand and chain widely used and loved.’

Wilko was founded in 1930 as a hardware shop in Leicester by James Kemsey Wilkinson, and was known as Wilkinson before taking on the abbreviated form of Wilko in the early 2010s.

Over the years the family-owned firm expanded its range to include DIY products, gardening wares and general home goods. But it has faced stiff competition from cut-price competitors including B&M, The Range and Home Bargains.

Andy Prendergast, GMB national secretary, said: ‘GMB Union will continue to support members through this process and will fight to ensure members are consulted as per the law and that you receive every penny you are entitled to.

‘GMB will not forget the incompetence that has led to this collapse and will we not forget the dividends paid to the millionaires who gambled your jobs on their whims.’

Trade unionists and staff are enraged at bosses’ decisions to pay £77m to owners and former shareholders in the last decade. The chain was controlled by descendants of the founder.

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said: ‘This is devastating news that will likely see stores close across the country.’