Wilko rescue bid collapses as HMV owner walks away

A potential rescue deal that would’ve saved thousands of jobs at Nottinghamshire-headquartered Wilko has collapsed.

Doug Putman, the owner of HMV, has ended talks with administrator PwC, according to reports from Sky News.

It is thought that Putman, who rescued the music retailer, wasn’t prepared to meet the cost of Wilko’s infrastructure. He had tabled a bid to buy around 100 Wilko stores.

PwC is now looking to strike a deal with Poundland to secure the future of 100 Wilko stores. However, it is unclear what would happen to the staff working at these stores, as it still remains with the 51 sites B&M bought last week.

PwC has already axed around 1,600 Wilko jobs. This latest development looks set to see more people made redundant.

Dr Ventsislav Ivanov, business expert at Oxford Business College, said: “The collapse of Wilko’s last-minute rescue deal brings further uncertainty to thousands of employees, who now face a further wave of redundancies.

“The company now looks set to become the latest victim of the battle between in-person and internet sales, which is increasingly being won by online retailers.

“Popular legacy brands that have been regular fixtures in our towns and cities for decades are finding it increasingly hard to survive in the cost-of-living crisis.

“Business costs are soaring amid a perfect storm of inflation, rising wages, rents and business rates.

“Wilko has positioned itself as a budget-friendly retailer that doesn’t compromise on the quality of its products. Unfortunately, this has become a crowded market and other big players like B&M and Home Bargains have stolen many of their customers by offering lower prices.

“In a market full of budget stores, there’s very little room for one marketing itself as a more premium offering.

“Time is running out to find a buyer for the ailing Wilko, and its predicament is a bellwether for a high street sector that is really suffering at the moment.”