Closure of 15 Wilko stores deals another blow to high street

The retailer said it would shut 15 branches this year as leases end and favourable terms cannot be agreed. But the plans will not affect its new openings or a stores relocation programme. However, the GMB union described the announcement as “another nail in the high street’s coffin”, warning that hundreds of jobs could be lost.

Jerome Saint-Marc, Wilko’s chief executive said: “Our history is steeped in serving our customers and communities going back to 1930 but the way people shop with us and where they want to shop with us is changing.

“As a business we’re evolving and this includes working with landlords for more favourable terms, as well as looking at locations and store formats.

“We’ll continue to pull together to make our business better to secure the future of over 16,000 team members.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to support our affected team members who will be offered any available positions in nearby stores.”

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

“It’s yet another nail in the high street’s coffin and GMB calls on councils and landlords to review commercial leases and offer lower rents.

“Empty high streets and shopping centres are in no one’s interest but with 400 shops a week closing, this is inevitable, unless the costs of premises can be reduced.”

Planned closures include stores at 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.

Wilko said 11 of the 15 stores have an alternative Wilko within five miles.

Figures from the Centre for Retail Research show more than 83,000 jobs were lost in the sector last year, with over 11,000 store closures.

The figures were down on 2020, partly as a result of Covid relief measures put in place by the Government.

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