‘I’m so gutted, I love my job’: Moment Wilko staffer tears up as troubled retailer begins to shut all stores across the UK today, with more than 100 closing next week in further blow to Britain’s beleaguered high street
- Shops will close across the country today including in Liverpool and Cardiff
Wilko employees have shared their heartbreak at losing their jobs at the homeware chain after a rescue deal to save it collapsed yesterday.
The first 24 stores will close today, with a further 124 shuttered in the next week following the dramatic collapse of the beleaguered high street brand, which will see thousands made redundant.
All stores will be closed by the end of next month – with 12,500 staff likely to lose their jobs by the time the company’s implosion is complete.
One Wilko worker filmed herself sharing her pain at learning the news outside her branch in Thetford, Norfolk, posting it to her TikTok profile.
The employee, using the handle @whayley, said: ‘I’m gutted myself, I love my job.’
The Wilko employee pulled a grim expression as she told her TikTok followers the news, and said she was ‘gutted’ to lose her job at the store in Thetford, Norfolk
The first 24 stores from the troubled chain Wilko will close today, after a rescue deal to save the brand fell through yesterday
All stores are set to close by October with around 12,500 staff likely to lose their jobs
The initial round of closures, which includes stores in Liverpool, Cardiff, Acton and Falmouth, comes as a last-ditch rescue deal to save the store collapsed
She added: ‘I don’t know how they expect us to keep doing this with that news, it’s…the whole thing’s really demoralising.
‘If you haven’t read the news already all the Wilko stores in the country will be closed by early-to-mind October, which means my job is down the s******.’
Her voice audibly breaking throughout the clip, she adds: ‘Between now and next week there’s 200-something stores closing.
Which Wilko stores will close this week?
Administrators for Wilko have revealed the locations of 52 stores which will close this week.
The following Wilko shops will close today:
- Acton, London
- Aldershot, Hampshire
- Barking, London
- Bishop Auckland, County Durham
- Bletchley, Milton Keynes
- Brownhills, Walsall
- Camberley, Surrey
- Cardiff Bay Retail Park
- Falmouth, Cornwall
- Harpurhey, Manchester
- Irvine, North Ayrshire
- Liverpool Edge Lane
- Llandudno, Wales
- Lowestoft, Suffolk
- Morley, Leeds
- Nelson, Lancashire
- Port Talbot, Wales
- Putney, London
- Stafford, Staffordshire
- Tunbridge Wells, Kent
- Wakefield, 121 Kirkgate
- Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
- Westwood Cross Retail Park, Kent
- Winsford, Cheshire
The following Wilko shops will close on Thursday:
- Ashford, Kent
- Avonmeads, Bristol
- Banbury, Oxfordshire
- Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria
- Basildon, Essex
- Belle Vale, Liverpool
- Burnley, Lancashire
- Clydebank, Glasgow
- Cortonwood, Barnsley
- Dagenham, Essex
- Dewsbury, West Yorkshire
- Eccles, Greater Manchester
- Folkestone, Kent
- Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
- Hammersmith, London
- Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
- Morriston, Swansea
- New Malden, South-west London
- North Shields, Tyne and Wear
- Queen Street, Cardiff
- Rhyl, Wales
- Southampton West Quay
- St Austell, Cornwall
- Stockport, Greater Manchester
- Truro, Cornwall
- Uttoxeter, Staffordshire
- Woking, Surrey
‘It’s in the news. This isn’t even me like, spreading secrets, this is literally in the news.
‘So – sorry guys, my colleagues across the country, I am so, so, so gutted for you. I’m just gutted full stop.’
TikTok users took to the comments to wish her and her colleagues well, with one adding: ‘So sorry I really hoped HMV owner would save it. Gonna miss Wilko. My mums fave shop ever.’
Family-owned Wilko fell into administration in August after it came under pressure from weak consumer spending, debts to suppliers and an increasingly competitive environment with similar stores such as Poundland and the Range.
In the last month the chain had been the focus of a last-ditch attempt by the owner of HMV Doug Putman to strike a rescue deal, however, administrators PwC said this failed.
Wilko’s distribution centre operations will begin to wind down on Friday.
A further 124 stores will close between September 17 and 21, including sites in Bognor Regis, Humberstone in Leicestershire and Maidenhead.
The administration said that the closure dates for the remaining stores will be announced in due course.
In a statement yesterday, Zelf Hussain, joint administrator at PwC said: ‘Despite extensive efforts, it has become clear that no significant part of the Wilko operations can be rescued as a going concern,’ administrators PwC said in a statement.
‘We continue to work with potential buyers for different parts of the business and are confident of completing transactions in the coming days.’
Mr Putman had been speaking to the administrators over a deal which could see him take over about 200 shops. But it appeared that no agreement could be reached.
Mr Putman, founder of Putman Investments, said yesterday: ‘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.’
PwC announced that along with today’s closures, a further 28 stores will shut on Thursday.
The closure of the 52 stores this week will result in 1,016 redundancies.
The store’s warehouse will close on Friday with the final support centre workers leaving in early October as operations unwind.
Administrators are still in talks over deals to sell store properties, but are shutting down sites after failing to find a suitor who would take them on as Wilko shops and retain their staff.
Although other companies are still in the running to take over some Wilko stores, the GMB Union said that the bids were only interested in the property and any deals would not include the workers.
Following the collapse of the rescue deal, the union said that any hopes of saving thousands of jobs had collapsed.
PwC had already agreed a roughly £13 million deal to sell up to 51 Wilko stores to rival B&M.
Fellow discount retailer Poundland is still in talks with PwC in an attempt to snap up about 100 shops, according to Sky News.
Other high street chains including The Range and Home Bargains have also reportedly signalled their interest over potentially buying the Wilko brand or stores.
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.
A Wilko rescue deal proposed by HMV owner Doug Putman (pictured in a store) has collapsed
Wilko’s shelves have looked increasingly bare since the news of their collapse was announced last month
Shops are expected to close within weeks with thousands of job losses
‘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.’
Both of Wilko’s warehouses, called distribution centres (DCs) will close this Friday. A second round of store closures will be announced on Tuesday, it said. These 124 sites will close between September 19 and September 21.
GMB said: ‘Staff will be asked to work two extra days after the store have closed. Likewise, a small number will be required to stay on at the DCs for up to 14 days to assist with the decommissioning.’
Wilko was founded by JK Wilkinson in 1930 with a single shop in Leicester.
It outlasted the demise of rival Woolworths after the financial crisis in 2008.
But its leadership and owners have been criticised after £77million was handed to former shareholders in the past decade – first reported by the Mail on Sunday – including during years when the firm made a loss.
Wilko announced its collapse on August 10 blaming stubbornly high inflation and interest rates affecting businesses and consumers.
It also emerged last week that Aldi is eyeing up former Wilko stores and could hire workers from the chain.
A Wilko store in Cardiff is pictured on Sunday with closing down signs posted on the windows
It’s thought that all Wilko stores will close by early October with the loss of jobs
Aldi has said it wants to open 500 more shops in the UK after marking the opening of its 1,000th store in Surrey as part of its expansion plans.
Its UK and Ireland chief executive Giles Hurley said it could use former Wilko stores for new sites sites.
Asked whether Also is looking at ex-Wilko stores, its UK and Ireland chief executive Giles Hurley told the Daily Mirror last week: ‘Clearly, with an ambitious target of 1,500 stores, we will look at all the opportunities. It comes down to the availability and suitability.’
Aldi has called for staff affected by the collapse of Wilko to get in touch because it has about 6,000 jobs currently available.
Mr De Mello said: ‘One potential retailer, in addition to Poundland, that could potentially acquire some Wilko stores is Aldi.
‘With their ambitious plan to expand their 990 strong store portfolio to 1,500 in the next few years, they need to leave no stone unturned in their location search, and a number of Wilko stores will likely fit the bill, in terms of size, accessibility and market potential.
‘Aldi have also thrown a lifeline to Wilko staff, encouraging them to apply for some of the circa 6,000 current job vacancies they have.’
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