- Wilko Stores to Close by Early October
- Bid to Save 300 Wilko Stores Fails
- B&M Acquiring Some Wilko Stores; Uncertainty and Concern Among Employees
As a result of the collapse of a rescue plan for the chain, Wilko will vanish from British high streets.
The GMB union has stated that all 400 stores will close by the beginning of October in the United Kingdom.
All 12,500 employees of the family-owned business will probably be laid off.
It is believed that no bidders are interested in operating stores under the Wilko brand, but some parties are interested in rebranding their stores.
HMV entrepreneur Doug Putman wanted to keep 300 Wilko stores operational, but growing prices hampered the agreement.
The first Wilko stores will close this week after administrators PwC previously announced that 52 stores across the country would cease operations on Tuesday and Thursday.
Wilko’s distribution center will cease operations on September 15.
PwC stated that closure dates for the remaining 222 stores will be notified in due time.
B&M has announced that it will acquire up to 51 of Wilko’s 400 stores in a transaction worth £13 million. The stores will be rebranded as B&M stores, but it is unclear whether any employment will be saved or whether Wilko employees will be given preference when applying for positions at B&M stores.
Numerous Wilko stores are located on High Street in traditional city centers. Since the pandemic, there has been a shift towards larger retail parks and out-of-town options with more space, which has benefited B&M’s competitors.
It is believed that Poundland is interested in purchasing up to 70 stores to expand its portfolio.
The Wilko trademark is also still available, with retailers such as The Range submitting bids for the name.
“Sick and exhausted”
On Monday morning, an unnamed Wilko employee reported that they had not received any formal information about the store’s future.
“I’m sick and exhausted right now, and everyone is stressed,” she said.
She said she felt “let down by Wilko, the union, and the administration personnel.” after 15 years at the retailer.
“This is not fair to Wilko’s devoted employees,” she stated.
The cash-strapped chain declared in August that it had entered administration, causing concern for its 12,500 employees’ futures.
To date, 1,016 layoffs have been announced by closing retailers.
It has made an additional 299 redundancies at its two distribution centers in Worksop and Newport, which will close on Friday of the following week, and more than 260 at its support center.
Doug Putman’s attempt to resuscitate Wilko was impeded by the costs and difficulties associated with overhauling the company’s supply chains.
Initially, he was interested in up to 300 stores, but the most recent agreement may only involve 100.
In addition to day-to-day operating expenses, rents, and supplier contracts posed a problem.
Mr. Putman stated that he had spent several weeks working with administrators and suppliers to find a viable means to save the business and that the bid’s failure was “a great disappointment.”
“We were unable to secure a stable foundation to ensure the company’s and its employees’ long-term success,” he continued.
Wilko, which was family-owned until its crisis, filled Woolworths’ 2008 bankruptcy hole.
“Wilko was much more than a brand, a retailer, or the products it sold; it was the thousands of loyal team members who now face an uncertain future,” said Nadine Houghton, national officer at the GMB union. Although Wilko stopped being a family-owned business years ago, its staff kept its family-oriented ethos. It is the family that Wilko colleagues created for themselves that will be missed the most.”
Wilko had already borrowed millions of dollars from restructuring expert Hilco, cut jobs restructured its leadership team, and sold a distribution center as it struggled to keep its stores stocked amid mounting costs.
The company has been criticized in recent years for paying dividends, but Lisa Wilkinson, the retailer’s former chairwoman and the granddaughter of the company’s founder stated that the company would have failed even if it had not made these payments.
Recently, Ms. Wilkinson stated that “everyone has tried everything” to save the company.