Wilko stores to shut ‘within weeks’ as race to find buyer fails

The majority of Wilko stores look set to close after a purchase of the discount retailer has fallen through, it emerged on Wednesday evening.

In a meeting with administrators on Wednesday, the GMB union was informed there is no longer any prospect that the majority of the business will be saved, meaning in-store and call centre redundancies over coming weeks, says the union.

Sky News has reported that PepCp, the owner of Willenhall-headquartered Poundland, is eyeing up a bid for 100 Wilko stores, whilst B&M is looking at taking between 40 to 50 shops.

But even if deals with PepCo and B&M come off, it would still mean that around 200 Wilko stores would close, with some 6,000 jobs lost.

In a statement, joint administrators, Jane Steer, Zelf Hussain and Edward Williams of PwC, said: “Since our appointment as administrators of Wilko we have held extensive discussions with parties who expressed an interest in buying all or part of the business. 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 today been necessary to update employee representatives.

“We know this will further add to the uncertainty felt by workers. We will be supporting staff through this deeply unsettling time, working closely with the government, JobCentre plus, unions and large employers to maximise possibilities for a rapid return to work for employees in the event of redundancies.

“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.”

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.

“We will fight to ensure Wilko bosses are held accountable for the simple reason our members deserve so much better.

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

Wilko employs around 12,000 staff across 400 stores in the UK. The firm fell into administration on August 10, with administrators scrambling to find a buyer ever since. They appear, now, to have failed.