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Wilko to close all remaining stores, 12,500 jobs at risk

PwC added it continues to liaise closely with the government, agencies, unions and large employers to ‘help create avenues to further employment opportunities for staff, with the aim of helping team members quickly return to employment’

Collapsed retail chain Wilko will close all of its 400 stores by early October after a rescue bid failed to materialise, placing 12,500 jobs at risk.

Administrators PwC said it informed all staff that they will sadly commence the closure of all wilko stores, the two distribution centres and the cessation of the majority of activities of its support centre.

It also confirmed that staff at 124 stores have been informed that those outlets will close on, or before, Thursday 21 September. Timings for the closure of the remaining 222 stores will be announced in due course.

The closure of distribution centre (DC) operations is expected to take place on Friday 15 September, with the majority of the remaining 886 DC employees being made redundant on that date. Further redundancies of the remaining 210 support centre employees will take place during September and early October as operations wind down.

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The administrators said its dedicated employee team will continue to help provide support, including assisting in the statutory redundancy claims process and ensuring the dedicated employee helpline remains in place to address any employee queries.

PwC added it continues to liaise closely with the government, agencies, unions and large employers to “help create avenues to further employment opportunities for staff, with the aim of helping team members quickly return to employment”. This includes any and all transactions that may lead to stores opening quickly under other brands as a platform for future employment.

Zelf Hussain, joint administrator, said: “Despite the significant and intensive efforts of both ourselves and Putman Investments – the remaining party interested in buying a significant part of the business as a going concern – a transaction could not be progressed due to the inability to reduce central infrastructure costs quickly enough to make a deal commercially viable.

“The dedication shown by all team members during this period has been hugely humbling and we are grateful for the patience and understanding they have shown. As with those who have already been given notice of redundancy, we will guide and support those team members impacted over the coming weeks through the redundancy claims process.”

He added: “We also continue to collaborate closely with relevant agencies and engage with any potential employers to help facilitate a quick return into new employment for those impacted.

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

The news comes as HMV owner Doug Putman’s rescue deal failed after he pulled out of the deal due to rising costs.

Putman had reportedly planned to keep up to 300 stores, however it is thought that the deal was complicated by the need to replace and rework Wilko’s supply chain after a number of its suppliers wanted their debts repaid now in order to continue to guarantee supplying Wilko’s stores.

In a statement to The Sun newspaper, Putman said: “It is with great disappointment that we can no longer continue in the purchase process for Wilko having worked with administrators and suppliers over several weeks to seek a viable way to rescue it as a going concern.

“A stable foundation could not be secured to ensure long-term success for the business and its people in the way that we would have wanted.”

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