HMV owner launches last-minute bid for Wilko

Doug Putman

The owner of HMV has launched an eleventh-hour rescue bid for stricken Nottinghamshire retailer Wilko.

Doug Putman is understood to be in talks with administrators from PwC over saving the ailing brand, according to reports in The Times.

Putman is also the owner of Toys R Us in Canada.

Earlier this week, we reported that PwC had failed to find a buyer for the whole Wilko business, and, while various parties were interested in cherry-picking handfuls of stores, that around half of its 400 shops were just weeks from closing with 6,000 workers staring down the barrel of redundancy.

In a statement on Wednesday, 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.”

If Putman’s offer is accepted, he would be seen as the white knight that PwC and Wilko’s management have been searching for some months.