GMB Union says it has been informed that the majority of Wilko stores are to close “within weeks” after a purchase of the discount retailer fell through.
In a meeting with PwC administrators today (August 23) GMB Union says it was informed there is no longer any prospect that the majority of the business will be saved. This means redundancies for staff in store and at call centres.
Some stores may be bought, either individually or as part of larger packages, but significant job losses are now expected.
Budget retail chain Wilko officially went into administration on August 10. The firm has stores in Ramsgate and Westwood Cross.
Hopes of rescuing the chain faded after failure to agree a rescue plan. It means 400 stores and 12,000 jobs are at risk.
A sale of the chain had been considered and a £40m credit arrangement with Hilco was made earlier this year.
Sadly, this was not possible and Wilko appointed administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Jane Steer, Zelf Hussain and Edward Williams of PwC, Joint Administrators of Wilkinson Hardware Stores Ltd, Wilko Ltd and Wilko.com Ltd, 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.”
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.”
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.