Wilko is set to return to UK high streets, with five standalone stores due to open before Christmas, the collapsed retailer’s new owner The Range announced today.
The first two will be in Plymouth and Exeter in Devon, followed by two unidentified sites in the South East and one in the North of England to be revealed ‘imminently’.
Sources told that more stores would open 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. Customers will also be able to use in-store terminals to make home delivery orders from a selection of more than 100,000 items.
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 today, Wilko products will be stocked in The Range shops. The 93-year-old discount retailer shut its remaining shops three weeks ago after collapsing into administration.
The Range will also stock the products online after purchasing the Wilko.com website.
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A Wilko store in Slough, Berkshire, was one of the 400 shops to close in recent months
Pet products with the Wilko branding are on the shelves at The Range stores from today
Wilko paint and decorating products are also now being stocked by The Range
The Range has also begun selling Wilko gardening essentials on its shelves
Wilko customers will be able to stock up on its DIY products again at The Range
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.
Alex Simpkin, chief executive of CDS Superstores, trading as The Range and Wilko, said today: ‘For the majority of its 93 years, Wilko was an incredibly successful business that gave its customers exactly what they needed to get their home and garden jobs sorted.
‘It was their advanced own-brand capabilities that encouraged us to invest in the brand and wilko.com and we’re excited to now be selling Wilko products online once more and across our 200 stores network.
‘The public reaction to the loss of Wilko stores was undeniable. It’s clear that there’s a huge love for Wilko and we’ve seen an encouraging demand for the return of its own-brand products. That’s why we’ve taken the decision to reintroduce Wilko back to many of the high streets and communities that it used to so proudly serve.’
Among the Wilko products being stocked at The Range from today 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.
A message on the Wilko.com website, which returned on October 13 after the chain’s collapse
Staff empty one of the last Wilko stores to close, in Stratford, East London, on October 8
A family look inside the Wilko store in Wood Green, North London, which closed on October 8
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.
Speaking about the addition of Wilko products to existing The Range stores, Mr Simpkin said: ‘Wilko is a much-loved and trusted UK brand and it was important to us to allow it to live on.
‘We noticed Wilko customers were really disappointed to see stores closed, especially when it seemed they would no longer be able to buy their favourite products.
‘We have worked hard and at pace to ensure they still have access to their favourite lines by bringing them into our own stores and online at wilko.com within a matter of weeks.’
He added that the retail chain was ‘moving forwards with an aggressive growth strategy’, with plans to open more stores in the near future.
The CDS Superstores property team is said to be ‘encouraging landlords across the UK to open productive conversations if they’re interested in being considered for the Wilko rollout programme’.
Mr Simpkin continued: ‘Our team from Wilko that joined us through the acquisition has shown true resilience, they’ve set to work to integrate the best parts of Wilko into The Range’s operational systems.
‘We’re expanding that team every day with new Wilko hires and can’t wait to extend that back out to local communities. We’ll endeavour to give ex-Wilko employees priority as a part of the recruitment process for the new stores.’
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 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.
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.
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.
Earlier this 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.
Wilko shoppers enter a store in Liverpool last month before it closed along with the other 400
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 this 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 this 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.
** Are you excited for the return of Wilko? Please email: [email protected] **