Wilko collapses into administration with 12,000 jobs at risk
18 August 2023
High-street retailer Wilko collapsed into administration last week, after failing to find rescuers or emergency investment, putting more than 12,000 jobs at risk.
The privately-owned company, which sells a wide range of branded goods at reduced prices, secured a £40 million lifeline at the beginning of the year from Hilco UK, but has spent recent weeks ‘hunting for a rescue deal’.
Following the announcement of its demise, Nick Drewe, retail expert and founder of online discount platform Wethrift, shares his reaction to the news: “Today’s news regarding the collapse of Wilko is, unfortunately, another example of the many retailers falling victim to the ongoing cost of living crisis and economic uncertainty.
“Consumers facing the repercussions of rising interest rates, energy prices and a lack of salary increases, means that the pressure to secure the very best prices and deals on everyday products is now greater than ever.
“Following the collapse of Woolworths in 2009, many turned to Wilkos as an alternative for sourcing a huge range of items or goods, at a reasonable price. From pick-and-mix sweets and pet food, to cleaning products and even homewares, Wilkos has arguably become a staple of the British high street over the past two decades.
“Unfortunately, despite the fact that Wilko’s has historically offered its customers competitive prices, chains such as B&M, Home Bargains and The Range seem to have overtaken in terms of popularity, availability of stock, and become the ‘go-to’ stores for bargain hunters.
“Many are also speculating that, due to its reliance on in-person purchases and high street footfall, Wilko failed to recover from the devastating impact that the Covid-19 pandemic had on retailers. British consumers began pivoting the way they shopped for essential items, preferring instead to rely on online shopping rather than risking in-store visits.
“With the collapse of Joules, Made.com, Cath Kidston, Paperchase and many other well-known brands during the past year, it certainly seems as though Wilko won’t be the last victim of these trying times before the year is over.”
GMB Union has issued an update on Wilko after meeting administrators.
Andy Prendergast, GMB National Secretary, said: “GMB has met with administrators and the company as part of the formal consultation process.
“We can confirm there have been expressions of interest from organisations who are considering taking over at least some parts of the business.
“These are still at an early stage, but means there are genuine grounds for hope. Whilst this process continues staff will continue to be paid and kept on. All stores are continuing to trade, and deliveries of new stock will continue.”