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B&M to snap up 51 Wilko stores but unclear if jobs are to be saved

todaySeptember 5, 2023 3

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B&M to snap up 51 Wilko stores but unclear if jobs are to be saved

Wilko’s administrators have offloaded 51 Wilko stores to B&M but the discount retailer is yet to confirm whether workers at the sites will be retained.

Sky News had earlier reported on the expected announcement, with City editor Mark Kleinman adding that hopes were fading for a wider rescue deal that would take in the vast majority of the chain’s 400 stores and 12,500 employees.

It was understood that HMV’s owner Doug Putnam was now targeting around 200 sites following talks with Wilko’s suppliers, instead of the 300 for which he had initially arranged financing.

Negotiations with Wilko’s joint administrators at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) are continuing

“The chances of a deal to avert mass redundancies now looks increasingly unlikely”, Kleinman warned.

He said of the B&M announcement: “That deal wouldn’t have been struck by PwC if the broader rescue deal with Doug Putnam was on track and, as I understand it, that deal now looks like it’s being radically re-shaped.”

B&M European Value Retail’s statement to the stock market said it had paid £13m for the 51 sites.

It did not reveal the locations.

While the company neglected to say if any staff would be kept on, its statement did reveal hope that the sites were set to be relaunched, under its brand, within weeks.

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Aug: HMV close to rescue deal for Wilko

“The consideration is fully funded from existing cash reserves and the acquisition is not expected to be conditional on any regulatory clearances,” B&M said.

“An update on the timing of these new store openings will be provided in the… interim results announcement on 9 November 2023.”

The administrators have spent weeks in negotiations with multiple parties about a store carve-up.

The chain, which was established by the Wilkinson family in 1930, collapsed last month following a failure to find new investment.

Like many high street retailers, it had been hit by inflationary pressures and supply chain challenges.

Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said of the partial rescue deal: ”Wilko’s collapse is B&M’s gain, given that the successful value retailer had made no secret of wanting to open more shops across the UK.

“The soon-to-be vacant premises were easy picking for B&M and it is likely that the retailer has been ultra-choosy when it comes to cherry picking locations.”

Written by: Newsroom

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