Wilko cuts prices as rescue offers are weighed
Wilko has slashed prices at hundreds of stores as unions insisted there are still “genuine grounds for hope” of a bailout deal.
The collapsed High Street retailer launched a sale offer of up to 50 per cent off its 400 stores across the country after falling into administration last week, putting 12,000 jobs at risk.
The sale comes as PwC managers are considering various offers for Wilko in hopes of saving the business.
B&M, Poundland and Alteri’s owner Benson for Beds are rumored to have thrown their hat into the ring.
And while there have been concerns for Wilko’s 12,500 employees, union bosses have been more optimistic.
Sign of the times: The collapsed High Street retailer has launched a sale offer of up to 50 per cent off at its 400 stores across the country.
Andy Prendergast, national secretary of the GMB union, said: ‘We can confirm that there have been expressions of interest from organizations considering taking over at least some parts of the business. They are still at an early stage, but this means there are genuine grounds for hope. As long as this process continues, staff will continue to be paid and maintained.’
Wilko has been a big name in Britain for decades. It was founded in 1930 as a hardware store in Leicester by JK Wilkinson, and was known as Wilkinson for decades before adopting the shortened form in the early 2010s.
Over the years, the family business expanded its range to include DIY products, garden supplies and general household items. But it has faced stiff competition from a growing number of cut-price competitors, including B&M, The Range and Home Bargains.
Potential saviors are believed to have submitted offers to PwC for 40 to 50 Wilko stores, although a rescue offer, if accepted, could see up to 300 stores retained. But the order of events is reminiscent of Woolworths, which disappeared from the High Street in 2008 at the height of the credit crunch with the loss of 27,000 jobs and 800 stores.
Wilko bosses came under fire after the Mail on Sunday revealed they took £77m out of the company in the decade before it collapsed.
The bulk of it came when £63m was paid to one side of the Wilkinson family after he sold his share of the company to other members of the clan.
A further £3m was taken out as a shareholder dividend in 2022, when the company announced losses of £35.9m.
Chief Executive Mark Jackson said last week the company had done everything it could to weather uncertain economic circumstances, but “time is up.”
In a letter to staff, he said: “We have all worked hard to keep this incredible business intact, but we must admit that time is up, and now we must do our best to preserve as many jobs as possible, for as long as possible.” . it’s possible.’