Budget retail chain Wilko has gone into administration.
Hopes of rescuing the chain faded after failure to agree a rescue plan. It means 400 stores, including in Ramsgate and Westwood, and 12,000 jobs are at risk.
Last week the firm filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators but said discussions would continue with interested parties in a bid to save the business.
A sale of the chain had been considered and a £40m credit arrangement with Hilco was made earlier this year.
Sadly, this has not been possible and Wilko has now appointed administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers who are expected to continue to seek a buyer for at least part of the business.
Wilko CEO Mark Jackson said: “Over the past six months we’ve been open with all our stakeholders including our team members that we’ve been considering options to accelerate a turnaround plan given that we needed to make significant changes to the way we operate to restore confidence and stabilise our business.
“We left no stone unturned when it came to preserving this incredible business but must concede that with regret, we’ve no choice but to take the difficult decision to enter into administration.
“I’d like to take this opportunity on behalf of the directors and the Wilkinson family to thank all of our customers and our hardworking team members across our stores, logistics and support centre who remained loyal to Wilko. It’s been an honour to have worked alongside you all as we fought to realise and to maximise the significant opportunities that existed to re-establish a profitable Wilko.”
A turnaround plan had included bringing in a new Chair with experience in retail turnaround situations and a newly refreshed and streamlined senior team. Since January and with the help of retail advisers and experts, Wilko says it had seen real progress.
Mr Jackson said significant savings had been made and the business had streamlined costs and transformed the way the business operated, adding that based on annualised cost savings it would have delivered the most profitable Wilko ever recorded within 24-months.
But he said: “Without the surety of being able to complete the deal within the necessary time frame and given the cash position, we’ve been left with no choice but to take this unfortunate action.
“We’ve all fought hard to keep this incredible business intact but must concede that time has run out and now, we must do what’s best to preserve as many jobs as possible, for as long as is possible, by working with our appointed administrators.”
The business was founded in Leicester in 1930 by James Kemsey Wilkinson and remains in the ownership of the founding Wilkinson family.
The business traded under the Wilkinson name until 2014, when it rebranded as Wilko.
It catered for the demands for DIY products in the 1950s, created the first Wilko product range in the 1970s, launched online shopping in the 2000s and was the first to sell 100% plastic-free wipes across our whole range.