Wilko to close 52 UK stores and make 1,300 redundancies: Industry reaction from retail expert 

06/09/2023

HIGH-street retailer Wilko has this week announced that it is to close 52 of its stores, leaving more than 1,300 without jobs, after plunging into administration last month. 

This announcement comes after the news that the privately-owned company, which sells a wide range of branded goods at reduced prices, had offloaded 51 of the chain’s 400 stores to budget retailer B&M. It is believed that none of the 52 stores being closed are part of this new deal. 

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

“The news regarding the closures of 52 Wilko stores and 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, 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 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. 

“Whilst it will be announced on Wednesday (September 6th) which Wilko stores have been saved as part of the B&M buy out, there is no doubt that this is an extremely stressful and worrying time for those employees waiting to see if they still have a job. 

“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.”

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