UK retail chain Wilko at risk of collapse

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Wilko, a discount retail chain which sells homeware and household goods, is at risk of collapse after it filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators on Thursday, putting 12,000 jobs on the line if no buyer can be found.

Wilko said it had received indicative offers to help recapitalise but none of them were able to provide sufficient liquidity in the time needed, meaning it was set to call in administrators.

The retailer could be one of the first major victims of Britain’s tougher economy, after consecutive interest rates rises that started in December 2021.

Despite the squeeze on household incomes from the jump in interest rates and high levels of inflation, most high street chains have been able to keep trading well so far this year.

“This is extremely concerning,” the GMB trade union, which represents about 4,000 workers at Wilko, said in a statement. “Wilko’s staff deserve reassurance that their jobs are safe.”

Wilko’s Chief Executive Mark Jackson said he hoped the privately-held retailer would be bought.

“We’ll continue to progress discussions with interested parties with the aim of completing a transaction which preserves the business,” he said in a statement.

Wilko operates from 400 stores across the UK, where it competes with rivals such as B&M, and has an annual turnover of 1.2 billion pounds ($1.5 billion).

($1 = 0.7893 pounds)

(Reporting by Muvija M, Sam Tobin and Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton and Paul Sandle)