Poundland is to acquire up to 71 Wilko sites that it intends to reopen under its own brand in a deal that could throw a lifeline to some of the about 1,800 staff who will lose their jobs at the stricken retailer.
Under the deal struck by administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) with Poundland’s parent company Pepco, the sites will be acquired only after all 408 Wilko stores are shut and more than 12,000 staff made redundant.
PwC indicated Wilko employees would be offered the opportunity to work at the new Poundland branches, although it is not clear how many roles will be made available.
Last week, PwC announced a £13m agreement with discount retailer B&M to buy up to 51 Wilko properties that will also be rebranded in a deal that did not include a guarantee to save any jobs.
“Alongside the previously announced agreement with B&M, we’re confident this sale will create a platform for future employment opportunities for people including current Wilko team members at up to 122 locations,” said Edward Williams, joint administrator at PwC. “We will continue to engage with other retailers around any interest in other wilko sites and are confident of completing a sale of the brand and intellectual property within the coming days.”
The Pepco and B&M deals involve shops which employ 3,200 Wilko staff members in total.
On Monday, PwC said that all of Wilko’s stores are to close by early October with the loss of more than 12,000 jobs after talks with potential buyers failed to deliver a rescue deal.
Wilko’s two big warehouses, in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, and Newport, Wales, where 299 jobs have already gone, are to close on Friday.
Last week, PwC announced the closure of a first wave of 52 Wilko stores and the loss of more than 1,300 staff, including support centre workers and warehouse staff, but continued talks with prospective buyers.
The statement on the closure of the whole estate came hours after it emerged that a rescue deal proposed by the owner of HMV that would have saved about half of Wilko’s sites and secured the future of thousands of jobs had collapsed.
Doug Putman, who engineered a turnaround of HMV in the UK and owns Toys R Us in Canada, had been negotiating a deal to save as many as 200 of Wilko’s 408 stores, throwing a lifeline to its more than 12,000 staff.
PwC is still in talks with the discount retailer The Range which is seeking a deal for the Wilko brand.
Wilko, which was founded in 1930 when JK Wilkinson opened his first store in Leicester, took over stores left empty when Woolworths collapsed in 2008.