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Wilko announces 1,300 redundancies after B&M buys up to 51 stores

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Over a thousand Wilko employees will lose their jobs as part of the company’s collapse into administration.

PricewaterhouseCoopers announced 52 stores will close and 1,300 workers will lose their job by 14 September, throwing the future of the budget chain into doubt.

However, B&M European Value Retail S.A. confirmed it had today entered into an agreement with the joint administrators of Wilko Limited to buy up to 51 properties for £13m.

A statement from the firm, read: “The consideration is fully funded from existing cash reserves and the acquisition is not expected to be conditional on any regulatory clearances.”

The stores are expected to operate under the B&M brand.

However, this afternoon the administrator announced: “It has become clear from these [B&M] discussions that some stores do not form part of any ongoing interest in the Wilko store portfolio.

“Today, the administrators therefore sadly confirm the closure of 52 stores and redundancies of 1,016 staff based at these sites, and a further 299 redundancies at the two distribution centres in Worksop and Newport.”

Edward Williams, the joint administrator added: “In the absence of viable offers for the whole business, very sadly store closures and redundancies of team members from those stores are now necessary, in addition to the already announced redundancies at the support centre and distribution centres.

“We know this has been a deeply unsettling time for everyone concerned and would like to express our gratitude to all Wilko team members for the dedication and support they have continued to give the business in the most trying of circumstances.”

Future of Wilko ‘remains in doubt’

This is on top of the 283 workers – mostly from its support centre – who were last week told they would be the first to be made redundant.

Other workers were pinning their hopes on another rescue deal after Canadian billionaire and HMV owner Doug Putman was reportedly in pole position to acquire the company, which went into administration in early August.

Tania Clench, a legal director at business lawyers Cripps, believed the future of Wilko “remains in doubt.”

She said: “Thousands of other high street workers still face losing their jobs, and unsecured creditors still don’t know where they stand. After payment of the administrators’ fees and paying out Hilco as the secured creditor, what will there be left to pay preferential and/or unsecured creditors?”

“Anyone who takes on Wilko will need to invest time and cash in bringing the stores and the brand in line with what its rivals are offering – joining up the online and in-store operations, revamping the look of their stores whilst still safeguarding the shopping experience many look to have at Wilko.”