UK retail suffers major casualty as discount chain Wilko collapses

Failure of rescue talks with prospective suitors puts 12,000 jobs at risk

UK discount retailer Wilko has collapsed into administration, putting 12,000 jobs at risk after rescue talks with prospective suitors failed.

Chief executive Mark Jackson said on Thursday that management and advisers had left “no stone unturned when it came to preserving this incredible business but must concede that, with regret, we’ve no choice but to take the difficult decision to enter into administration”.

The chain counted Greencore chief executive Dalton Philips among its non-executive directors.

The news comes after the business filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators a week ago in an effort to keep creditors, including landlords and suppliers, at bay while insolvency practitioners at PwC sought to find a last-minute buyer or investor. They have now been appointed administrators.


Wilko’s demise makes it one of the biggest retail casualties in the UK in recent years following the collapse of Philip Green’s retail empire and department store chain Debenhams.

The family-owned chain started life from a single hardware store in 1930 in Leicester, in England’s East Midlands region, capitalising on the rise of DIY as a leisure activity in the following decades and expanding to 400 stores.

However, the company has faced increasing competition from nimbler rivals in recent years, leaving it grappling with lacklustre sales amid mounting cash and inflationary pressures. It fell to a £36 million (€42 million) pretax loss in the year to January 2022 from a £3.2 million profit the year before, according to its most recent accounts filed at Companies House.

Administrators at PwC are expected to run a further sales process but ultimately liquidate the chain if no solution is found. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2023