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

Business

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.

B&M European Value Retail’s announcement to the stock market said it had paid £13m for the sites, the locations for which it did not identify.

The company neglected to say if any staff would be kept on but its statement did suggest that it was hoping to relaunch the sites under its brand within weeks.

“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.

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“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.

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