Employment bloodbath as Wilko closes 124 more stores
Thousands more Wilko employees will lose their jobs next week when another 124 stores close.
38 stores will close tomorrow, another 38 will close on Tuesday and 48 on Thursday. Among those closing are stores in Leighton Buzzard, Stevenage, Wrexham, Bicester and Holyhead.
The closures come after a month of tortuous rescue talks between potential saviors and PwC administrators who failed to find a buyer.
Wilko collapsed into administration last month, putting 12,500 jobs at risk.
In total, all 398 Wilko stores will close, but deals with B&M and Poundland mean 122 of the sites will reopen under their names.
Bloodbath: Wilko collapsed into administration last month, putting 12,500 jobs at risk
This has raised hopes that some of the 3,200 employees who work in those stores will be retained or rehired.
In a separate deal this week, The Range, which was created and run by businessman Chris Dawson, bought the Wilko name, website and intellectual property for £5m.
The deal will allow The Range to sell Wilko products in its stores and online, although only 36 jobs on Wilko’s website team will be saved.
Poundland owner Pepco has agreed to buy 71 in a move that could save some jobs. This followed a deal earlier this month in which B&M agreed to take over up to 51 stores.
Poundland said it would “act quickly” and prioritize hiring existing Wilko staff when it opens the 71 sites it is buying.
Poundland managing director Barry Williams said: “Over the coming weeks we will be working quickly with the owners so we can open these stores as Poundlands with the new ranges that have been instrumental to our recent development.”
“And once that process is complete, we will ensure that a significant number of Wilko colleagues join our Poundland team.”
But the GMB union has expressed frustration and disappointment that more assurances have not been given to staff. Staff do not know how long they could be out of work, prolonging anxiety for those affected when the homewares chain went into receivership last month.
The company was founded in Leicester by James Kemsey Wilkinson in 1930, who opened a single hardware store. In 1939 nine branches were opened.
The group survived the demise of rival retail chain Woolworths after the 2008 financial crisis. But the company’s leadership and owners have come under fire after it handed out multi-million-dollar dividend payments in the run-up to its collapse.
Some £77m was handed out to former shareholders over the past decade, including during years when the company made losses, as first reported by The Mail on Sunday.