All of UK retailer Wilko’s stores to shut, with over 9,000 job losses

LONDON (Reuters) -Failed retailer Wilko will disappear from British high streets next month, as its entire chain of homeware stores are expected to close with the loss of at least 9,100 jobs, its administrators PwC said on Monday.

Wilko, which started as a hardware store in 1930 in Leicester, central England, succumbed to Britain’s tougher economic environment and cost-of-living crisis that has been driven by high inflation and a series of interest rate rises.

“It has become clear that no significant part of the Wilko operations can be rescued,” said PwC, which was brought in as administrators of the family-owned budget retailer last month after Wilko failed to secure emergency funding to tide it over a downturn in trading.

PwC confirmed that 124 Wilko stores were set to close by Sept. 21, while the timing for the closure of the remaining 222 stores has yet to be announced. The company’s distribution centre operations are expected to be shut down on Friday.

The GMB trade union, which has said it represents about 4,000 workers at Wilko, said in total the collapse of Wilko wound see 12,500 employees laid off but did not give a breakdown. Some job losses in addition to those set out on Monday had been announced in recent weeks.

“We continue to work with potential buyers for different parts of the business and are confident of completing transactions in the coming days,” PwC said.

Earlier this month London-listed retailer B&M struck a deal to buy 51 Wilko stores for up to 13 million pounds ($16.26 million).

However, a deal could not be reached in time for the rest of the company, despite efforts by Canadian businessman Doug Putman, the owner of HMV music stores, and PwC, due to an inability to cut down infrastructure costs quickly enough to make a transaction viable, PwC said.

“This isn’t a tragedy without cause,” GMB National Officer Nadine Houghton said. “Wilko should have thrived in a bargain retail sector that is otherwise strong, but it was run into the ground by the business owners.”

($1 = 0.7993 pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey and Muvija M; Editing by Sachin Ravikumar, Paul Sandle and Susan Fenton)