Homeware chain Wilko is set to disappear from the high street - with the loss of up to 12,500 jobs.Rescue talks had been under way to try to save its
Homeware chain Wilko is set to disappear from the high street – with the loss of up to 12,500 jobs.
Rescue talks had been under way to try to save its 400 stores after the company plunged into administration last month.
It is one of the biggest retail collapses in recent years following the demise of Debenhams and the Arcadia empire, which owned Topshop.
Redundancies now loom for Wilko’s 12,500 employees, who have been anxiously waiting to hear the outcome of emergency talks between bidders and administrators PwC.
Yesterday PwC confirmed that all Wilko’s stores would close by early October, with the first to close from today.
Two of Wilko’s distribution centres in Nottinghamshire and Wales are also set to shut next week.
Discussions to save the store with Doug Putman, the Canadian tycoon behind entertainment retailer HMV, collapsed.
Mr Putman wanted to keep up to 300 Wilko shops but the costs needed to rework the firm’s supply chains proved impossible to overcome. He said: ‘It is with great disappointment that we can no longer continue in the purchase process for Wilko, having worked with administrators and suppliers over several weeks to seek a viable way to rescue it as a going concern.
‘A stable foundation could not be secured to ensure longterm success for the business and its people in the way that we would have wanted.’
Retail rival B&M has announced that it will buy up to 51 stores from Wilko for £13million. However, it is thought that they will be rebranded as B&M stores.
It is also unclear whether Wilko’s staff would be retained at these sites or if they would be given any preference for new jobs there. Discount store Poundland is also believed to be eyeing up 70 stores as it looks to expand during the cost of living crisis.
Homeware firm The Range is in talks about buying the Wilko brand but not its stores.
Zelf Hussain, joint administrator at PwC, said: ‘We continue to work with potential buyers for different parts of the business and are confident of completing transactions in the coming days.’
One Wilko worker, speaking anonymously to BBC News, said the future was uncertain and she was deeply disappointed by the rescue talks. ‘I feel sick and tired now – everyone is stressed,’ she said.
The business was founded by James Kemsey ‘JK’ Wilkinson in 1930 with a single hardware shop in Leicester.
Owners of the company have come under fire in recent weeks over the £77million dished out to former shareholders during the past decade.
Nadine Houghton, from union GMB, said: ‘Wilko may have ceased genuinely being a family brand many years ago but the staff kept the real family ethos of Wilko alive until the very end.
‘Wilko should have thrived in a bargain retail sector that is otherwise strong but it was run into the ground by the business owners.’