Three of the first five new Wilko stores will open at shopping centres in Plymouth, Exeter and Luton, the collapsed retailer’s new owner The Range announced today.
The first two Wilko shops will open in exactly four weeks’ time on December 1 at the Armada Centre in Plymouth and the Guildhall Shopping Centre in Exeter.
A third will then follow at the Arndale Centre in Luton one week later on December 8 – before another two in as-yet unconfirmed locations open before Christmas.
These are the exact locations and opening dates of the first three new Wilko stores:
- Plymouth – Unit A, Armada Centre, Mayflower Street, PL1 1QL – December 1
- Exeter – Unit 100, Guildhall Shopping Centre, EX4 3HP – December 1
- Luton – 141/147 Arndale Centre, LU1 2TN – December 8
The update follows confirmation last week that five new Wilko stores would be opened before Christmas . It said the ‘final two locations will be announced soon’.
A family look inside the Wilko store in Wood Green, north London, which closed on October 8
The brand’s new owner CDS Superstores, which also owns The Range, said Wilko plans to recruit up to 80 local staff per store, with ex-Wilko employees prioritised for interviews.
ANALYSIS: Wilko will still have its work cut out to keep prices low
Wilko’s famous red and white frontage is set to stay on as a feature on the British retail landscape, saved from the scrapheap because of shoppers’ love for the brand.
Although it was expected that CDS Superstores would sell Wilko-branded products across its network of Range stores, and via the website it now owns, the re-instatement of standalone stores was far from certain.
But affection for Wilko among throngs of value conscious shoppers has convinced the new owners that demand will be high, and customers will surge through the doors of the five stores it plans to open before Christmas.
It is increasingly competitive in the value sector, as the big grocers compete with discount chains for business, so it’s not surprising that the CDS Superstores is showing caution by only opening five initial stores, although there are more in the pipeline next year.
The choice of location will be key, as part of the reason Wilko came so badly unstuck was that many of its sites in its sprawling store estate didn’t have enough parking and were too large and expensive.
In this climate a good location, the right product mix and a razor-sharp focus on shoppers’ wallets will be all-important. These are all factors CDS Superstores will be zeroing in on as it plans these new concept stores.
Although there is likely to be a huge boost of shopper enthusiasm at the launch, it will still have its work cut out to keep prices low and win back custom but will undoubtedly be helped by supplier relationships forged through partnerships built up through The Range business.
Susannah Streeter is head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown
Each of the new stores will stock Wilko products as well as major brands, and there will be self-service terminals for shoppers to browse and order from the 100,000 items available via the Wilko.com website which was relaunched last month.
CDS Superstores chief executive Alex Simpkin said today: ‘It’s clear that there’s a huge love for Wilko and we’re proud to confirm we’ll be re-introducing the brand to high streets in Plymouth, Exeter and Luton in the coming weeks.
‘We’re also glad to be bringing employment opportunities to these towns and for helping local families and communities have easy access to all the everyday home and garden items they need once again.
‘This initial rollout is only the beginning for our plans for revitalising the Wilko brand on the nation’s high streets and retail parks, and we’ll be announcing further store launches and re-openings throughout 2024.’
The company added that its property team was ‘encouraging landlords across the UK to open productive conversations if they’re interested in being considered for the Wilko rollout programme’.
On October 27, The Range revealed that five new standalone Wilko stores will open before Christmas – two in Plymouth and Exeter, followed by two unidentified sites in the South East and one in the North of England.
One of the South East sites was today identified as Luton. Confirmation is now awaited on the other South East location, as well as the site in the North.
Sources told MailOnline that after the first new five stores open, more will follow next year across England, Scotland, Wales and – for the first time – Northern Ireland .
A mixture of former stores and new sites are said to be under consideration, with original Wilko employees expected to be involved.
The Range had not been expected to set up standalone Wilko shops.
But its new stores will offer Wilko products for cleaning and household, decorating and DIY, garden and outdoor, homeware, pets and wildlife, storage and Christmas.
From last week, Wilko products were also stocked in The Range shops.
They have been sold online again since October 13 when The Range relaunched the Wilko website .
The 93-year-old retailer shut its remaining shops on October 8 after collapsing into administration, prompting an outpouring of sadness from customers.
Pet products with the Wilko branding have been on shelves at The Range stores since last week
Wilko paint and decorating products are also now being stocked by The Range
Staff empty one of the last Wilko stores to close, in Stratford, east London, on October 8
Ms Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said there was clearly ‘affection for Wilko among throngs of value conscious shoppers’ but added that its store locations will be ‘key’.
What went wrong at Wilko and will it return?
What is Wilko?
Wilko was founded in 1930 by James Kemsey Wilkinson, who opened the firm’s first store in Leicester under the Wilkinson Cash Stores brand.
By 1941 it was simply known as Wilkinson and grew as a hardware chain across UK high streets.
The firm, which simplified its name to just Wilko in 2014, grew to operate about 400 stores and employ 12,500 people in both its shops and Worksop headquarters earlier this year.
When did financial trouble begin?
The retailer had remained robust for many years despite wider challenges on the UK high street, growing as rivals such as Woolworths suffered issues.
Wilko reported strong profits for most of the 2010s and saw its turnover peak at more than £1.6billion in 2018, but by this point it had seen profitability begin to fall amid pressure on high streets.
Turnover has decreased in every year since as it faced challenges in the sector compounded by the pandemic and tighter consumer budgets due to the cost-of-living crisis.
Why did it attract fewer shoppers?
Wilko saw shopper numbers drift amid increased competition from rivals such as B&M and Home Bargains.
These shops have continued to grow, with consumers going in droves to their stores, which are often based in out-of-town retail parks.
Retail parks have seen footfall rise sharply in recent years to the detriment of many high streets, where Wilko had the majority of its sites.
What attempts were made to save it?
PwC held talks with several interested companies, some of which wanted to buy some of the stores while others were interested in rights to its name.
The main hope lay with HMV owner Doug Putman, who had been in talks to take over the firm as a whole and keep about 200 shops as a ‘going concern’, but no agreement could be reached mainly due to ‘infrastructure’ costs.
What is happening to its stores?
PwC agreed a deal with rival B&M to purchase up to 51 Wilko stores.
Meanwhile, rival Poundland agreed to buy up to 71 Wilko stores in a separate deal. Poundland has already reopened 20 of these shops under its own brand.
The remaining stores are seeing their lease agreements end and it will be up to their landlords to find new tenants.
The Range has announced new Wilko stores in Plymouth and Exeter, one in Luton, another in the South East and one in the North – locations to be confirmed soon. More openings are planned next year across Britain.
Will shoppers see the brand again?
Administrators sold the brand, wilko.com website and related intellectual property to The Range for £5million. The website is now back online, Wilko products are being stocked at The Range from today – and standalone Wilko stores will follow over the coming months.
What is happening to workers?
Most of Wilko’s 12,500 workers faced redundancy after being transferred as part of administration deals.
The Range took on 36 workers from Wilko’s digital team after buying its brand and website. And Poundland has offered jobs to over 200 former Wilko workers in recent weeks.
The Range said it plans to recruit up to 80 local staff per new Wilko store, with ex-Wilko employees prioritised for interviews.
But she also warned that Wilko will ‘still have its work cut out to keep prices low and win back custom’.
Commenting on the new stores, Ms Streeter said: ‘Wilko’s famous red and white frontage is set to stay on as a feature on the British retail landscape, saved from the scrapheap because of shoppers’ love for the brand.
‘Although it was expected that [owner] CDS Superstores would sell Wilko-branded products across its network of Range stores, and via the website it now owns, the reinstatement of standalone stores was far from certain.
‘But affection for Wilko among throngs of value conscious shoppers has convinced the new owners that demand will be high, and customers will surge through the doors of the five stores it plans to open before Christmas.’
She added that the value sector was becoming ‘increasingly competitive’ as major supermarkets compete with discount chains for business, and it was therefore unsurprising that only five initial stores would open in a ‘cautious’ approach.
Ms Streeter continued: ‘The choice of location will be key, as part of the reason Wilko came so badly unstuck was that many of its sites in its sprawling store estate didn’t have enough parking and were too large and expensive.
‘In this climate a good location, the right product mix and a razor-sharp focus on shoppers’ wallets will be all-important. These are all factors CDS Superstores will be zeroing in on as it plans these new concept stores.
‘Although there is likely to be a huge boost of shopper enthusiasm at the launch, it will still have its work cut out to keep prices low and win back custom but will undoubtedly be helped by supplier relationships forged through partnerships built up through The Range business.’
Administrators from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) sold off a range of assets, including the Wilko brand and some store properties, as they sought to recover funds to pay off outstanding debts after failing to secure a full rescue deal.
As part of the process, the Wilko brand, website and intellectual property were bought by rival The Range for £5million .
Among the Wilko products being stocked at The Range since last week for pet owners are tuna loin selection cat food (6 x 50g for £2.75), ultra clumping cat litter (£3.79), ten litres of wood pellets (£5), litter tray liners (£1.50), large packs of wood shavings (£1.99) and dog poo bags from 59p.
They are also selling Wilko bird feed products such as a pack of six mealworm suet blocks (£4), a half-coconut feeder (£1) and a Wildly Tasty Insect Medley (£1.50).
There is a selection of kitchen, bedroom and bathroom paint which has been reduced from £19 to £7.99 as part of an in-store launch offer.
Grass seed, flower and vegetable seeds are also now available.
The Range, which is owned and run by self-made billionaire Chris Dawson, sells more than 80,000 products across 18 departments.
It started life as a market stall trading across the South West, with the first store opening in 1989 under the name ‘CDS’. There are now more than 210 stores across the UK and Ireland.
It agreed a partnership with the supermarket Iceland in 2018, with more than 75 branches now offering Iceland products.
On October 13, Wilko relaunched online , less than a week after the retailer shut the doors of its last high street shops for the final time following its collapse.
Sources close to the brand told MailOnline at the time that they were keen for consumers to know Wilko.com was the official website after police issued a warning when some shoppers reported losing hundreds of pounds on a bogus website for the collapsed retailer.
Wilko closed its final 41 high street shops on October 8, having shut its 400 UK stores over the previous month after going into administration in August.
The chain had been selling off its last remaining products to recover more cash to help repay its outstanding debts.
Wilko shoppers enter a store in Liverpool last month before it closed along with the other 400
The final closures brought to a close one of the largest high street failures in recent years, with almost all of Wilko’s 12,500 workers being made redundant.
Which Wilko products can you now buy at The Range?
Here is a selection of Wilko products in the pet and bird feed categories available at The Range from last week:
- Tuna loin selection cat food – £2.75
- Ultra clumping cat litter – £3.79
- Ten litres of wood pellets – £5
- Litter tray liners – £1.50
- Packs of wood shavings – £1.99
- Dog poo bags – 59p
- Six mealworm suet blocks – £4
- Half-coconut feeder – £1
- Wildly Tasty Insect Medley – £1.50
Wilko was originally founded by James Kemsey Wilkinson in Leicester in 1930.
The family-owned business hired administrators from PwC after it came under pressure from weak consumer spending and debts to suppliers.
PwC then held talks with interested firms but was unable to secure a rescue deal for the whole firm, with a potential takeover by HMV owner Doug Putman collapsing.
As a result, administrators sold off a range of the company’s assets to pay off creditors.
Deals were agreed to sell up to 71 stores to Poundland and up to 51 to fellow discounter B&M. However, neither included staff.
Last month, Poundland said it had offered jobs to more than 200 former Wilko workers and had already reopened 20 of these sites under its brand.
Poundland is thought to be aiming to open all the former Wilko stores it bought by the end of the year, with its new lease agreements set to be completed in early autumn.
However, The Times reported last month that some of the store takeovers could fail after the new owners were accused of delaying completion with efforts to set up new rent and lease arrangement under more favourable terms.
Administrators for Wilko confirmed in documents last month that the business owed around £625million when it went bust.
The filings also showed the pension fund was left more than £50million in deficit and was unlikely to receive more than £4million following the insolvency process.
Those interested in working at the new Wilko stores can apply by clicking here