Wednesday, January 26, 2022
UK

Wilko to close up to 15 stores

Wilko

The company said it was reviewing leases that were coming to an end and would exit stores where favourable terms could not be agreed

Wilko is to close up to 15 stores over the coming year with the potential loss of more than 300 jobs.

The company, which currently operates 414 outlets across the UK employing 16,000 people, said it was reviewing leases that were coming to an end and would exit stores where favourable terms could not be agreed. Stores affected include Bournemouth, Grantham, Rotherham, Llanelli, Sutton Coldfield and Cleethorpes.

Jerome Saint-Marc, the chief executive, said: There’s no denying the way people shop with us and where they want to shop with us is changing. As a business, we’re evolving, and this includes working with landlords for more favourable terms, as well as looking at locations and store formats.

We’ll continue to pull together to make our business better to secure the future of over 16,000 team members, Saint-Marc said.

Saint-Marc said staff affected by store closures would be offered jobs in nearby outlets. The group is planning to open at least one new store in the year ahead, in Blackpool, while the Shrewsbury store will relocate.

Roger Jenkins, a national officer for the GMB union, said: These closures are devastating for Wilko workers and the communities who use them.

It’s yet another nail in the high street’s coffin and GMB calls on councils and landlords to review commercial leases and offer lower rents, he said.

Empty high streets and shopping centres are in no one’s interest but with 400 shops a week closing, this is inevitable, unless the costs of premises can be reduced. GMB will now meet with Wilko members to discuss our next steps, he said.

The potential closures come after a tough few years for high street retailers, after a string of high street lockdowns that have accelerated the shift to online shopping. Once busy city centres have also been knocked by the move to working from home and general anxiety about socialising during the pandemic.

Sales at Wilco sank 10.5% in the year to January 2021 to £1.28bn, while pretax profits fell almost 13% to £5.5m, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In the first year of the pandemic, the company said sales at its high street outlets had suffered from a 40% fall in visitor numbers after the March 2020 lockdown.

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