The British Independent Retailers Association has said Wilko’s demise will cast a ‘big shadow’ on the high street and has called on the administrators to do everything within their power to help it continue to trade.
The announcement that administrators are to begin making redundancies from its head office, distribution centre and support centres this week and next will be a hard blow for the already struggling high street.
BIRA, which works with over 6,000 independent businesses of all sizes across the UK, expressed its sadness for the employees who would be losing their jobs and said they hoped everything could be done to save the shop and their livelihoods.
Wilko, which was founded in the 1930s and has 400 stores across the country, earlier this month (August) was formally appointed PwC to lead the process. Despite a last-minute bid by M2 Capital, which aimed to salvage the situation, the hopes of saving these jobs were dashed as the private equity firm’s offer fell short of meeting PwC’s stringent due diligence criteria.
The administrators made the decision to initiate redundancies starting from September 4th. A total of 269 employees at the retailer’s support centre in Worksop are to be made redundant on Monday, and the two distribution centres in Worksop and Newport are expected to be announced early next week, with the total number of jobs at risk being 1,300.
Andrew Goodacre, CEO of BIRA said: “Today marks a sombre day for the high street and the communities it sustains. The impending loss of hundreds of jobs at Wilko is not just about numbers on a balance sheet; it signifies the displacement of dedicated employees who have contributed to these stores’ vitality. The closure of these retail spaces will undoubtedly leave a significant void in our high streets and a big shadow over our towns and cities.
“There is clearly an interest for the stores and if more time is needed for parties to be able to buy the stores, then we must do that. These are prime sites on high streets and we call on the administrators to do absolutely everything needed to be done to sort a deal. If that means more time then so be it.
“If it does collapse then this is a stark reminder that the cost-of-living crisis affects all facets of the high street, from large retailers to small businesses. This event underscores the challenges faced by businesses of all sizes and underscores the urgent need for reform in business rates, a critical step towards ensuring the survival of our high streets.”