Wilko: Poundland owner to buy 71 stores and employ a 'significant' number of colleagues
Workers at the stores will not be transferred directly as part of the move, but Poundland has said it will “prioritise” existing Wilko workers for roles when the shops are opened under the new brand.
Poundland said its new lease agreements are set to be completed in “early autumn”, and it aims to open the stores by the end of 2023.
It has not yet been confirmed which Wilko stores are set to be bought by Poundland in the deal.
The move comes as a number of Yorkshire stores have closed or are set to close this week.
On Sunday, branches in Bradford, Pontefract, Wombwell and Woodhouse Lane in Leeds are to shut their doors for a final time. On Tuesday, shops in Beverley, Redcar and Hull’s Hessle Road store will close.
On Thursday, closures will happen at Bransholme, Driffield, the Hillsborough store in Sheffield and Wheatley Retail Park in Doncaster.
Wilko shut its first group of shops today, including Morley and Kirkgate in Wakefield.
Managing director Barry Williams said: “In the coming weeks we will work quickly with landlords so we can open these stores as Poundland’s with the new ranges that have been pivotal to our recent development.
“Once that process is complete, we will ensure a significant number of the Wilko colleagues will join our Poundland team.
“We recognise the last few weeks have been difficult for them and we will move quickly to secure new consents from landlords so we can offer them the certainty they deserve.”
It comes a day after administrators confirmed all Wilko’s remaining shop, warehouse and support centre workers are set to lose their jobs after failing to secure a rescue deal.
Family-owned Wilko employed 12,500 staff and ran 400 shops before it hired administrators early last month after it came under pressure from weak consumer spending and debts to suppliers.
Administrators had previously struck a deal for fellow discount chain B&M to buy 51 other Wilko stores.
PwC said around 3,200 Wilko staff currently work across the sites acquired by B&M and Pepco.
Edward Williams, joint administrator, said: “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.
“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 announcement comes on the final day of trading for 24 Wilko stores, in the first phase of the chain’s mass closures.
A further 28 shops will shut after trading on Thursday.
A further 124 shops will shut for good next week as the process continues, with the final 222 stores all due to close by early October.
PwC said the firm’s warehouse will shut on Friday, with final support centre workers leaving in early October as operations completely unwind.