Wilko 'committed' to Yorkshire city despite being forced to find new home

Wilko says it is 'committed' to Wakefield, despite the likelihood the business will be forced to move from Kirkgate.

Much of city-centre road from the former ABC Cinema to Wilko has been earmarked for demolition to make way for housing, meaning the homeware retail chain will eventually be forced to find new premises.

With the company announcing the closure of 15 shops across the UK last week as a cost-cutting measure, and the need to find a new home in Wakefield, fears are grown that the popular shop could be next on the company's hit list.

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But a company spokesman said: "We have a lease until 2033 in Wakefield. We’re committed to serving our loyal customers in the town and have no plans to leave."

The Wilko store in Wakefield

Wakefield Council has announced its intentions to move ahead on plans to revamp Kirkgate, with much of the street falling into disrepair.

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The old ABC will be bulldozed to make way for a temporary public open space. The remainder of the buildings on the east side of the road, stretching down to the Chantry roundabout will also be flattened, apart from the historic Harewood Arms pub.

Discussions are underway to re-locate existing businesses and to demolish the units over the next 18 months.

With a decreased need for retail units, the council is wanting to build 150 new homes on the site.

The plans are subject to the government approving the release of funds that it has allocated to Wakefield via the Towns Fund.

Clare Elliott, Wakefield Council’s service director for economic growth and skills, said: “We have been in discussions with the building owners of Wilko about the plans for Kirkgate for some considerable time and have been working with them to discuss their future business plans and the implications of the Towns Fund project at Kirkgate.

"The intention is to continue to work with Wilko to ensure they have a presence in the city centre.”