Thousands of jobs at risk as British budget retailer Wilko goes into administration

The chain has over 400 branches employing 12,000 staff

Wilko started life as a single hardware shop in Leicester, England in 1930

Around 12,000 jobs are at risk as a result of Wilko, the British budget retailer, entering administration after failing to secure a rescue deal. Staff at the firm’s 400-plus branches have been told that PwC has been hired to oversee the administration process.

Mark Jackson, Wilko’s CEO, said it had received “a significant level of interest” from potential buyers, but had been “left with no choice but to take this unfortunate action” after being unable to close a deal in time.

“Over the past six months, Wilko has been very open that we’ve been considering options to accelerate a turnaround plan, given that we needed to make significant changes to the way we operate to restore confidence and stabilise our business,” Jackson said..

“We left no stone unturned when it came to preserving this incredible business, but must concede that, with regret, we’ve no choice but to take the difficult decision to enter into administration.

“We must concede that time has run out and now we must do what’s best to preserve as many jobs as possible, for as long as is possible, by working with our appointed administrators.”

The retailer was founded as a hardware shop in Leicester in 1930, but quickly expanded across Britain, growing into other markets such as garden products and stationery.

It launched a turnaround plan earlier this year after its sales and shopper footfall came under pressure as consumer budgets were hammered by the rising cost of living.

Wilko said it saw “real progress” in many areas of its plan and made significant cost savings, but was unable to improve its finances quickly enough to avoid insolvency. Administrators will now seek out potential buyers for the firm’s store estate and its brand.

The company started looking for a takeover or investment at the start of the year, with advisers from PwC overseeing the process.

It is understood Wilko held talks with the private equity firms Gordon Brothers, which owns Laura Ashley, and Alteri as it sought funding to keep it afloat, but was unable to strike a deal.