Call for action as Worksop-based Wilko faces collapse with thousands of jobs at risk
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The privately-owned company, which employed hundreds of people in the town at its Manton Wood Distribution Centre, said it had filed a "notice of intention" to appoint administrators after failing to find enough emergency investment.
The retailer, which also has a store in Worksop’s Priory Centre and in Retford, has been struggling in recent years financially and had recently closed stores, reduced staffing levels and restructured in a bid to survive.
Wilko CEO Mark Jackson said; While we can confirm we’ve had a significant level of interest, including indicative offers that we believe would meet all our financial criteria to recapitalise the business, at present, we don’t today have an offer that provides the necessary liquidity in the time we have available, given the mounting cash pressures we’re faced with.
"Unfortunately, with this in mind, today we’re having to take the difficult decision to file an NOI.
“We’ll continue to progress discussions with interested parties with the aim of completing a transaction which preserves the business and will encourage those interested parties we’re in discussions with to move as fast as possible.
“We continue to believe that our robust turnaround plan, with significant re-stabilisation cost savings in progress, will deliver a profitable Wilko and maximise the significant opportunities that we know exist.
"We’re a £1.2bn turnover business with strong presence on UK high streets through our 400 stores, online at wilko.com and through our great value Wilko own brand products, serving local communities with their everyday household and garden needs for over 90 years.
“That said, while we’ll continue to progress these indicative offers, without the surety of a recapitalisation being able to be completed within the necessary time frame and given the cash position, we’ve been left with no choice but to take this action.”
Andy Prendergast, national secretary at the GMB union, said: "This is extremely concerning but we remain hopeful that a buyer can be found.
"Wilko's staff deserve reassurance that their jobs are safe. We hope this is the number one priority going forward."
Councillor James Naish, Leader of Bassetlaw District Council, said: “Like many local employees and residents, Bassetlaw District Council is concerned to hear today’s announcement from Wilkos. Wilkos has historically been at the epicentre of retail business in Bassetlaw, and we are proud of its long and established history of serving the high street. It is a great family-orientated business which puts people and customers at the heart of its operations.
“As a council, we stand to support anxious employees wherever we can. We are in active dialogue with the GMB trade union and have written to the Chief Executive of Wilkos, seeking an urgent meeting, while putting the council's teams on standby to help as required.
“We support finding a buyer as quickly as possible to ensure that high streets, near and far, remain vibrant places to shop, work and socialise.
"Bassetlaw is a great place to do business with significant inward investment planned over the next two decades, and Bassetlaw District Council will actively welcome discussions with any party considering supporting this much-loved brand.”
Meanwhile, Philip Jackson Chairman of Worksop Business Forum said: “I know that Wilko has been finding things difficult for some time but this is a worrying situation.
"Lots of people in Worksop and surrounding areas rely on Wilko for their livelihoods. I hope a successful solution is found quickly.”
Councillor Jo White, Deputy Leader of Bassetlaw District Council and Labour’s Parliamentary hopeful, said: ““My thoughts are with the people who work at Wilkos. I know people, I have friends who have worked in their stores and at their HQ , and my hope is that a buyer quickly steps in.
"Shops like Wilkos are having a tough time on the high street due to stiff contests with online traders. Amazon dominates the market, but it has paid zero corporation tax iover the past two years, aided by recent tax credits totalling £7.7m. It's a competition that is weighted against Wilkos by this government.
"As Deputy Leader of the Council, I have jointly signed a letter to the Chief Executive Officer, Mark Jackson of Wilkos offering assistance and support and this very difficult time. I have also been in contact with GMB, the Wilkos trade union, Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves and Shadow Business Minister Jonny Reynolds. We all want this sorted very quickly, to see jobs in Bassetlaw and beyond saved and our high street stores protected.
"I am hoping that there will be a positive response from government should it make sense that they need to intervene to help stave off Wilkos from going bust whilst a buyer is found.
"Labour is commited to revitalising our high streets and supporting shops like Wilkos. We would fundamentally reform the business rate system and cut business rates for small businesses on the high street, which would be paid for by properly taxing the online giants."
Sally Gillborn MBE, Chief Executive at North Notts Bid, said: “As an organisation that works to champion high street businesses and improve footfall, North Notts BID is naturally saddened by the announcement from Wilko.
The company has a huge presence across Bassetlaw, including the areas of Worksop and Retford, where its stores are integral parts of the community.
North Notts Bid is continuing to work closely with its partners, including Bassetlaw District Council, to lend its support to Wilko through these troubling times.”
Bassetlaw’s Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith has been approached for comment.