Wilko reveals plans to close 16 stores this year, another blow to the High Street

Wilko plans to close 16 stores this year, the retailer said today, a new blow to the High Street that could lead to the loss of hundreds of jobs.

The company stated that the deals in question would close as soon as the leases expired and it would not be possible to agree on favorable terms.

GMB unions said it was “another nail in the High Street coffin” with a total of 330 jobs.

Wilko – which has acknowledged that the way people shop is “changing” – has a total of more than 400 branches across the UK and is investing heavily in online retail.

Last year, it invested £ 3 million in StreetDrone, an autonomous delivery company that aims to have its vehicles without drivers on British roads by 2023.

Wilko said the deals in question would close as soon as the leases expired and favorable terms could not be agreed, adding that this would not affect his new openings or relocation program.

Wilko said the deals in question would close as soon as the leases expired and favorable terms could not be agreed, adding that this would not affect his new openings or relocation program.

Wilko was hit by the pandemic despite the fact that its stores remained open because it was considered a key seller.

In the year to February 2021, it achieved a pre-tax profit of GBP 4.4 million, down 61.4% year on year.

Jerome Saint-Marc, CEO of Wilko, said: “Our history has been steeped in serving our customers and communities since 1930, but there is no denying how people shop with us and where they want to shop with us is changing.

“As a business, we are evolving and this includes working with landlords on more favorable terms, as well as researching store locations and formats.

“We will continue to pull together to improve our business to secure the future of more than 16,000 team members.

“We will do everything in our power to support the members of our affected team, who will be offered all available positions in the surrounding stores.

“We apologize to those communities where stores are closing, but we will continue to offer them everything they need in nearby stores or through wilko.com.”

Roger Jenkins, GMB’s national officer, said: “These closures are devastating for Wilko workers and the communities that use them.

“It’s another nail in the High Street coffin, and GMB is urging councils and landlords to review commercial leases and offer lower rents.

“No one is interested in the empty main streets and shopping malls, but with 400 shops closed every week, this is inevitable if space costs are not reduced.

“GMB will now meet with Wilko members to discuss our next steps.”

Planned closures include Shipley, Bournemouth and Stockton next month, Scunthorpe in March, Grantham and Redditch in May, Rotherham, Skegness and Sutton Coldfield in June, Llanelli in August, Merthyr Tydfil in September and Cleethorpes in October. Orpington and Edmonton Green in London will also be closed.

Wilko said that 11 stores have an alternative Wilko within five miles.

The High Street suffered more woes at Christmas as concerns about Covid persuaded shoppers to go online instead.

Christmas Eve fell by 21% compared to 2019, although it was still 30% better than a year ago.

Wilko: A popular chain that has been owned by the founding family since the first branch was opened in 1930

Wilko, formerly known as Wilkinson Hardware Stores and Wilkinson Cash Store, was founded in Leicester by James Kemsey Wilkinson in 1930.

The first branch was opened at 151 Charnwood Street, Leicester, in 1930, and the second arrived two years later in nearby Wigston Magna.

There was a steady demand for his household needs and household products, and by the time World War II broke out, there were a total of nine branches.

The chain has grown rapidly in recent years, reducing costs by taking over redundant stores instead of building new ones.

Today, the chain remains the property of the founding family and has more than 400 branches in the United Kingdom.

In the Wilko range, there are more than 14,000 products of its own brand, which account for half of annual sales.

Recently, the company has been investing heavily in its online offer wilko.com.

Britain’s retail parks performed better than their High Streets, helping to increase the country’s total by almost 14% compared to a week ago, Springboard found.

This trend continued after Christmas, when on Saturday, December 28, 2019, it fell by 56% in the humid and cold center of London.

Around 14.5% of shops on the High Street remained empty until the end of the year, while shopping malls were worse with 19.4%.

The collapse of major brands such as Debenhams and the owner of Topshop Arcadia at the end of 2020 helped increase the number of blank pages.

Last month, the iconic Selfridges department store was sold for £ 4 billion to retailer Signa Holding and Thai real estate company Central Group.

Elsewhere, however, there was better news when Next revealed sales jumped again as it updated its profit forecasts.

M&S is also expected to reveal positive news after its trading update on Thursday after its shares rose, as analysts indicated that the group was in the midst of a long-awaited “reversal”.

High Streets also breathe new life with the arrival of new leisure companies that want to offer customers new experiences, including mini golf, indoor go-karts and even virtual darts.

Richard Lim, CEO of Retail Economics, said things look high on the street.

He said: “You can’t fail to see renewed optimism when strong retailers are given a lot of opportunities and landlords are working really hard to make their offer really relevant.

“There has been a shift of power from landlords somewhat back to retailers and hospitality.

“I feel that there has also been some reflection during the pandemic, which should have a really positive result for consumers.”

But Mr Lim emphasized that the picture was “significantly different” between the types of places.

Wilko was founded in 1930. The picture shows an early example of one of the chain's stores

Wilko was founded in 1930. The picture shows an early example of one of the chain’s stores

He said: “It is important to stress that obviously not everywhere the pandemic was affected in the same way.

“The trend of people shopping closer on the suburban High Street around London and other major cities is definitely continuing, as is the pull of major flagship shopping centers such as the Birmingham Bullring, compared to smaller ones.”

David Fox, co-head of retail agency Colliers International, said demand from the best retailers is still strong, but demand from other sectors has helped landlords find operators for some potentially complex sites.

He said: “Your best shops in Topshop have already been filled because Zara, Primark, Next, River Island and others are still looking for opportunities.

“However, these companies are now also in a position where they are relatively picky, because the vacancy rate is higher and this can leave the landlord in challenging positions with other locations.

“I’m sure you can see how people are working to make better use of former department stores, for example, because it’s difficult to find a tenant who could come and replace Debenhams or someone like that.”

He added that some leisure companies had taken over the lands of former department stores and converted them, such as the former Debenhams store in Wandsworth, South London, which had reopened with a go-kart track, indoor bowling alley and Gravity Trampoline Park.

The Wilkos store in downtown Chester in the older store brand, which has now been replaced

The Wilkos store in downtown Chester in the older store brand, which has now been replaced

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