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Wilko to shut final shops for good after dramatic collapse

07 Oct 2023 3 minute read
Cardiff Bay Wilko. Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Wilko is set to shut the doors of its last high street shops for the final time as the collapse of the 93-year-old retailer comes to a close.

The discount hardware and furnishings chain has been shutting its 400 UK stores over the past month after tumbling into administration in August.

On Sunday, Wilko will shut the doors of its final 41 stores after they finish serving customers.

Store shelves have already become bare as it sells off its last remaining products in order to recover more cash to help repay Wilko’s outstanding debts.

It will bring to a close one of the largest high street failures in recent years, with almost all of Wilko’s 12,500 workers being made redundant.

Wilko was originally founded by James Kemsey Wilkinson in Leicester in 1930. The family-owned business hired administrators from PwC after it came under pressure from weak consumer spending and debts to suppliers.

PwC then held talks with interested firms but was unable to secure a rescue deal for the whole firm, with a potential takeover by HMV owner Doug Putman collapsing. As a result, administrators sold off a raft of the company’s assets in order to pay off creditors.


Deals were agreed to sell up to 71 stores to Poundland, and to sell up to 51 shops to fellow rival discounter B&M. However, both deals did not include staff.

Last week, Poundland said it had offered jobs to more than 200 former Wilko workers and has already reopened 20 of these sites under its brand.

However, the Times has reported that some of the store takeovers could fail after the new owners were accused of delaying completion with efforts to set up new rent and lease arrangement with move favourable terms.

The Wilko brand will not disappear from the high street completely despite the collapse, after The Range struck a deal to buy its brand, website and intellectual property for £5 million.

The Range said it will sell Wilko products “in-store”, although it is currently not expected to set up standalone Wilko shops.

It is set to restart home deliveries through after the closure of Wilko’s remaining stores.

Administrators for Wilko confirmed in filings last week that the business owed around £625 million when it went bust.

The documents also showed the retailer’s pension fund was left more than £50 million in deficit and is unlikely to receive more than £4 million following the insolvency process.

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