Tears from Wilko chairman as she blames Liz Truss mini-Budget for collapse

Grilling: Lisa Wilkinson speaking to MPs yesterday

The former chairman of Wilko told MPs she is ‘devastated’ by the retailer’s collapse and said the Liz Truss mini-Budget was partly responsible for its demise.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons business and trade committee, Lisa Wilkinson, pictured, also revealed the 93-year-old firm set up by her grandfather did not have enough cash to plug a £50m hole in the pension fund.

But MPs said dividend payments to shareholders even when the High Street chain was struggling amounted to ‘the burgling of a failing business’. 

The Mail on Sunday revealed £77million was dished out to the owners in the decade before Wilko went bust in August with the loss of 12,500 jobs and closure of 398 stores.

Addressing the collapse publicly for the first time, Wilkinson said: ‘I am devastated that we have let each and every one of those people down with the insolvency of Wilko.

‘I don’t know how to put into words how sad I am that we have let down all our team members, all our customers, our suppliers, and our advisers.’

Pushed by committee chairman Liam Byrne to apologise directly, Wilkinson added: ‘Of course I’m sorry, if you wish me to say the word sorry. I thought devastated covered it.’

She choked back tears as she defended not issuing a thank you or an apology to Wilko’s staff after it went into administration. She said directors and administrators had advised her to not make a statement and speaking to The Sunday Times was ‘the only means’ of thanking staff.

‘I will be thanking my customers and team members to my dying day,’ she added.

When asked why the firm collapsed, Wilkinson said: ‘Wilko failed because we ran out of cash. That’s what caused the downfall in the end.’

She said last year’s mini-Budget was one of the contributing factors to its demise.

She said Wilko was in the middle of negotiating a new loan arrangement when interest rates soared as investors reacted to Truss’s economic plans.

‘We were about to enter into secured lending arrangements with [Australian global financial services group] Macquarie when the 2022 mini-budget happened,’ she said.

‘Literally we were in the midst of that, and at that point the interest terms on that loan were hiked massively and that became infeasible. So, that was a contributor.’


The billionaire owner of music and film retailer HMV blamed ‘greedy’ landlords for making his vision to save most of the retailer’s stores ‘literally impossible’.

Doug Putman told the BBC’s Today programme that some landlords ‘unfortunately weren’t thinking about the 10,000-plus jobs that would have been saved’.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk