Thousands of jobs at risk after HMV owner’s Wilko rescue bid collapses

Administrators for the high street chain had been in discussions with Doug Putman over a deal to buy around 200 Wilko shops

Henry Saker-Clark
Monday 11 September 2023 12:21 BST
A potential rescue deal for Wilko has reportedly failed (James Manning/PA)
A potential rescue deal for Wilko has reportedly failed (James Manning/PA)

A last-ditch attempt by the owner of HMV to strike a rescue deal for stricken retailer Wilko has failed, intensifying fears over the future of thousands of jobs.

Administrators for the high street chain had been in discussions with Doug Putman, of Putman Investments, over a deal to buy around 200 Wilko shops.

Mr Putman, founder of Putman Investments, said: “It is with great disappointment that we can no longer continue in the purchase process for Wilko having worked with administrators and suppliers over several weeks to seek a viable way to rescue it as a going concern.

“We had financing in place and received the full support of PwC, Wilko management and staff representatives, which we are deeply thankful for considering what a challenging time it has been for them.

“However, commitment to overhauling the trading framework of the business with partners and the costs of running Wilko’s legacy operations infrastructure combined has meant that a stable foundation could not be secured to ensure long-term success for the business and its people in the way that we would have wanted.”

Sky News has reported that administrators from PwC are now in talks with Poundland over a potential deal to offload about 100 stores.

Other high street chains including The Range and Home Bargains have also reportedly signalled their interest in potentially buying the Wilko brand or stores.

Wilko, which employed around 12,500 staff, has already announced a £13 million deal to sell 51 shops to B&M, although the rival discounter has not agreed to take on Wilko workers as part of the deal.

Administrators have already announced more than 1,600 redundancies at Wilko in recent weeks.

This week the retailer will shut 52 shops in a move which will lead to 1,016 redundancies.

It is with great disappointment that we can no longer continue in the purchase process for Wilko

Doug Putman, Putman Investments

It said 24 of its shops will close on Tuesday, September 12, with a further 28 shops due to shut on Thursday September 14.

PwC has also announced hundreds of redundancies affecting workers at the firm’s warehouses in Worksop and Newport, as well as cuts at its support centre.

The 90-year-old retail chain tumbled into administration early last month after it came under pressure from weak consumer spending and debts to suppliers.

Nadine Houghton, national officer for the GMB union, said: “Due to the incompetency of Wilko bosses the deal has now run out of time.

“If the owners had been transparent and honest, thousands of loyal Wilko workers may not now be in this awful position.

“This is another devastating blow for them, who have seen their lives and futures gambled on the whims of millionaires and billionaires.

“Wilko bosses should be ashamed that this once great family business now appears to be beyond saving.”

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