‘Half of family behind Wilko value retailer bank £63m’

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Half of the family behind the Wilkinson value retail empire have banked £63m by selling out of the chain, it was reported today.

Last year, as part of a change in ownership, the founder’s daughter Barbara Wilkinson and grand-daughter Karin Swann and family ceased to be shareholders in the group.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, new documents reveal that Mrs Swann’s side of the family collected £63m from selling their holding in the company to the rest of the family, which is led by Lisa Wilkinson, who is now the sole chairman. The privately-owned company can trace its roots back to 1930, when JK Wilkinson opened his first store in Charnwood Street, Leicester.

A spokesman for Wilko said yesterday: “The family isn’t going to comment on the shareholder restructuring and the financial details attached to it.”

The figure of £63m is a combination of cash and property values, the spokesman said.

The company reported sales for the 2014/2015 year of £1.4bn, a fall of 1.2 per cent, which it said was a reflection of another challenging year in the UK retail market.

Pre-tax profits fell to £5.5m from £27.7m the year before.

However, the company said that the sales decline reduced during the second half of the year, with a “particularly good” performance in the run-up to Christmas and during January.

Wilko said its financial position remained strong, with a net cash inflow from operating activity during the year of £39.3m, leaving a balance of £46.6m of net funds.

This figure takes into account the costs of the group restructuring in March 2014.

As part of the restructuring, the company changed its trading name to Wilko Retail Ltd - or Wilko.

Yesterday, a spokesman said: “The decline in sales in 2014 just reflects the UK retail economy in 2014.

“And as the Wilko accounts statement says, it is now picking up again this year.”

In a statement at the end of the financial year, chief operating officer Sean Toal, chief financial officer Ian Ellis and director Lisa Wilkinson said, “We continue to invest in our future through our strategic projects and we have many exciting plans to reveal as the year progresses”.

Wilko has a number of stores in Yorkshire, including an outlet on Albion Street in Leeds.