All 400 Wilko stores to close by early October: Industry reaction from retail expert


A LAST-ditch attempt to save the Wilko brand from disappearing from the high streets of the UK has failed, with all 400 stores expected to close by early next month. 

The closures could result in as many as 12,500 redundancies, following the news that a rescue deal involving the owner of HMV had collapsed, due to a failure to reach a viable financial decision. 

A separate deal agreed with B&M is expected to see the rival budget chain take over up to 51 of the existing Wilko stores, in a deal worth £13m. It’s being speculated that these Wilko locations will eventually rebrand as B&M stores, and it’s currently unknown if this will result in any Wilko employees being kept in jobs, or if Wilko workers will be given preference when it comes to applying for positions in the brand new stores. 

Following the announcement of the redundancies and closures, Nick Drewe, retail expert and founder of online discount platform, Wethrift, shared his reaction to the news:

“The “too little, too late” news regarding the impending closure of the 400 UK Wilko locations and its subsequent redundancies are, 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, Wilko has arguably become a staple of the British high street over the past two decades. Due to this, it’s certainly going to be strange to lose the iconic red branding and logos from the UK high street altogether in just a mere matter of weeks. 

“Unfortunately, despite the fact that Wilko 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 and 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 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. 

“The downfall of Wilko may also be down to their locations, with the majority of stores typically established in the middle of town centres. Whilst this has traditionally been useful for those without cars, or students living in close proximity to town centres, the fact that rivals such as Home Bargains and B&M have set themselves up in bigger retail parks may have contributed to the demise of Wilko. 

“The out- of-town locations offer more space and car parking options, meaning they undoubtedly appeal more to those making larger purchases, as well as those who want to avoid venturing to their local town or city centre in order to stock up on their budget items during a quick lunch break or throughout the weekend.

“Despite being impossible to predict which of the stores will be taken over by B&M, it may be reasonable to believe that those stores who aren’t currently located near an existing B&M store may have a greater chance of being kept on, in order for the brand to spread their locations as widely across the UK regions as possible.”

The latest stories