Wilko's devastated shoppers scrounge for last items on empty shelves

Poundland buys 71 Wilko shops after B&M snapped up 52 others – as ‘gutted’ shoppers hunt for items on bare shelves before shops close for last time

  • The announcement comes as 24 stores are set to close its doors for good today 

Poundland has announced it will buy 71 Wilko stores, following the lead of B&M that snapped up 52 others, saving the jobs of hundreds and employees up and down the country.

Pepco, owner of the Poundland chain, said it would be offering roles to displaced Wilko staff as part of the deal.

The announcement comes as ‘gutted’ Wilko shoppers were left hunting around near-empty shelves today, as 24 stores are set to close its doors for good this evening, with 124 set to close by the end of next week. 

Customers who flocked to the shops today said they were ‘really sad’ about the closures while others compared Wilko’s fate to that of Woolworths following the financial crash.

Some, however, admitted they preferred its rival B&M, revealing they ‘would be much sadder if B&M closed’.

Customers who flocked to the shops today said they were ‘really sad’ about the closures while others compared Wilko’s fate to that of Woolworths following the financial crash. Pictured: Long-term Wilko shopper, Charlie Flemming 

Some Wilko workers took to TikTok to bid farewell to long-term customers

Wilko had been holding fire sales as administration talks continued – before a failed rescue bid by the owner of HMV led to remaining stores announcing their closures

A Poundland next to a Wilko in a shopping centre in Acton, west London. Poundland says it will buy 71 Wilko shops, saving hundreds of jobs, as it followed in the footsteps of fellow discounter B&M which bought 52

Sparse shelves at the Wilko store in Cardiff’s Queen Street as administration sales continue

Full list of Wilko stores bought by Poundland 

  • Aberdare, Wales
  • Alfreton, Derbyshire
  • Alnwick, Northumberland
  • Altrincham, Greater Manchester
  • Ammanford, Carmarthenshire
  • Ashby, North Lincolnshire
  • Barking, London
  • Bedminster, Somerset
  • Beeston, Nottinghamshire
  • Bicester, Oxfordshire
  • Bishop Stortford, Hertfordshire
  • Bletchley, Milton Keynes
  • Bolton, Greater Manchester
  • Brentwood, Essex
  • Brigg, North Lincolnshire
  • Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
  • Chepstow, Wales
  • Coalville, Leicestershire
  • Cramlington, Northumberland
  • Droitwich, Worcestershire
  • Eccles, Greater Manchester
  • Edmonton Green, Greater London
  • Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
  • Ferndown, Dorset
  • Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
  • Grays, Essex
  • Greenock, Inverclyde
  • Grimsby, North Lincolnshire
  • Havant, Hampshire
  • Hayes, Middlesex
  • Headingley, West Yorkshire
  • Hessle Road – Hull, East Yorkshire
  • Hillsborough, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
  • Hitchin, Hertfordshire
  • Jarrow, South Tyneside
  • Killingworth, North Tyneside
  • Kimberley, Nottingham
  • Lee Circle, Leicester, East Midlands
  • Leek, Staffordshire
  • Leigh, Greater Manchester
  • Lichfield, Staffordshire
  • Maidenhead, Berkshire
  • Matlock, Derbyshire
  • Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
  • Nelson, Lancashire
  • Northallerton, North Yorkshire
  • Orton, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
  • Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire
  • Peterlee, County Durham
  • Pontefract, West Yorkshire
  • Pontypool, Wales
  • Redhill, Surrey
  • Redruth, Cornwall
  • Ripley, Derbyshire
  • Rugeley, Staffordshire
  • Sale, Greater Manchester
  • Seaham, County Durham
  • Selly Oak, Birmingham, West Midlands
  • Shrewsbury Darwin Centre, Shropshire
  • South Shields, South Tyneside
  • Southport, Lancashire
  • Stafford, Staffordshire
  • Stamford, Lincolnshire
  • Stockport, Greater Manchester
  • Thornaby, North Yorkshire
  • Wellington, Shropshire
  • Wembley, London
  • West Ealing, London
  • Wombwell, South Yorkshire
  • Worcester, Worcestershire
  • Worksop, Nottinghamshire

The announcement on Tuesday afternoon came just one day after a rescue deal for much of the Wilko estate, pioneered by HMV owner Doug Putman, collapsed.

Poundland said its new lease agreements are set to be completed in ‘early autumn’, and it aims to open the stores by the end of 2023.

Managing director Barry Williams said: ‘In the coming weeks we will work quickly with landlords so we can open these stores as Poundland’s with the new ranges that have been pivotal to our recent development.

‘Once that process is complete, we will ensure a significant number of the Wilko colleagues will join our Poundland team.

‘We recognise the last few weeks have been difficult for them and we will move quickly to secure new consents from landlords so we can offer them the certainty they deserve.’

PwC, which is handling the administration of the troubled high street brand, said around 3,200 staff currently work at the sites acquired by both Poundland and B&M. 

Edward Williams, a joint administrator at PwC, said: ‘Alongside the previously announced agreement with B&M, we’re confident this sale will create a platform for future employment opportunities for people including current Wilko team members at up to 122 locations.

‘We will continue to engage with other retailers around any interest in other Wilko sites and are confident of completing a sale of the brand and intellectual property within the coming days.’

Poundland, which has 800 shops in the UK, is expected to rebrand the shops under its own name, as the deal does not include usage of the Wilko brand. 

The Wilko store in Acton, West London, is just one of the two dozen set to shut down tonight. By mid-morning on the final day of business, most of the shelves had long been stripped of bargains.

But that didn’t stop a steady stream of shoppers ferreting around for one last time at the high street giant this morning. 

For many, including local mother-of-one and grandmother Sarah Seare, the store’s closure means they will have to travel further afield for their Wilko favourites.

‘I usually come a couple of times a week for everything,’ the 49-year-old told MailOnline. 

‘Cleaning stuff, personal stuff, the pick & mix sweets, stationary for my grandchildren… Pretty much everything.

‘I didn’t think it would be saved, though. I saw what happened to Woolworths and thought it would be the same with Wilko.

‘I’m really gutted. The prices here are so good.

‘I care 24/7 for my son and only get out a few days a week. It’s so handy to come here – a five-minute walk away – and get everything in one place.

‘The staff are amazing as well – especially during the lockdown. They couldn’t do enough to help you.’

Customers were uniform in their sympathy for the staff of the Wilko store, located inside The Oaks shopping centre and flanked on either side by a Lidl and  Poundland. The Acton store is not among those snapped up in today’s deal.

Huge signs adorning the windows of the store, reading, ‘Store closing… Last day today!’, left no doubt as to its future.

Clifford Shurland, a chef living in West Ealing, said the fact some Wilko employees may not receive redundancy pay – as GMB boss Gary Smith suggested could happen to a quarter of workers – was ‘disgusting’.

The 59-year-old said: ‘It’s bad… I don’t know what went wrong.It has always been a good shop and I really feel for the employees.

‘I asked them if the company were helping them get another job, but they said no.

‘A lot of them have been here for a long time, they don’t deserve to be treated like that. It’s sad.’

Riccardo Meomi, a 34-year-old chef from Italy, doesn’t yet know where he’ll go to buy his DIY goods after the Acton Wilko’s closure.

‘I come here weekly,’ he said. ‘I come for DIY stuff. It’s the only place in the area where I can find these materials: screws, bolts, hardware…sometimes even kitchenware, paint, furniture.

‘It has got everything and it’s all quite cheap. It’s such a pity they are closing down. I hope the staff find other employment. I moved here about a year ago and they have become like friends.’

Shelves lay barren at the Wilko store in Putney, London, as shoppers look to grab last-minute bargains before the store closes for good

The Wilko store at Cardiff Bay in Wales is a similar store – its shelves stripped clean as administrators contend with closing the stores not snapped up by competitors

The Wilko store in Acton, West London – where many shelves have been cleared out

The Wilko in Ashford, Kent, which is expected to close this week

Shoppers are left in no doubt about the future of the Wilko in Brownhills near Walsall, in the West Midlands

Customers at the nearby Putney branch, also in the capital, said that they were ‘really sad’ about the closure and warned that ‘our high street is dying’. 

Local Denis Chamley said: ‘I drop into Wilko a few times a month. I am shocked that a business that offers products at a competitive price, in this country, that does not have a massive amount of staff can’t survive.

‘But then when I look around me at the rest of the high street I don’t see shops. Our high street is dying. Only charity shops and majors can survive.

READ MORE: Full list of Wilko stores closing TODAY: When is your local store shutting? 

‘What does that say about how we are governed, how our businesses work? We have no shortage of entrepreneurs. 

‘But if a major [business] can’t survive then where are we at? And it’s an old business as well. It’s really sad. Says a lot more about our country than it does about Wilko.’

Yvonne, also from the west London area, added: ‘I am really sorry it’s going. I am really sorry and I am surprised because people like it. 

‘Everyone I speak to says ‘oh I love Wilkos’, like Woolworths used to be. They talk about it being out of date but that’s what people like about it and it’s quite old fashioned.

‘The staff are really nice too so feel sorry for the staff. It really made me sad. There are loads of closures right now, the country is in a bit of a state. I am sorry.

‘I really, really don’t think there is anywhere else in Putney like that.’

One customer said: ‘It’s a pity it’s closing because every shop on the High Street seems to be shutting down. 

‘Wilko is impossible to replace. You can’t find stores like this anywhere. The nearest place I know where they sell things like this is down on Merchant Road. And with Sadiq Khan bringing in this Ulez charge, unless you are somebody who can afford it [you can’t get there].’

Kashid Mohammed added: ‘I was a regular shopper and I am very sad it’s closing because it was a very good retailer. I was really sad when I heard about it. 

‘I will now probably go to Home Bargains but you can’t beat Wilkos. They were cheaper, they were different.’

Iwona Olcyzyk said: ‘I always liked Wilko and now I will probably have to shop online.’

‘Gutted’ Wilko shoppers were left hunting around near-empty shelves today, as 24 stores set to close its doors for good this evening

This afternoon, Poundland announced that it would take over up to 71 Wilko stores and offer employment contracts to staff in these locations 

One group of female workers at the Wilko’s warehouse sang and clapped as they followed a conga line tried to be cheerful as they bid goodbye to their employer 

Another TikTok video, captioned ‘the giant slowly being put to sleep’, showed a gargantuan Wilko warehouse sitting empty after its stock was cleared out

Wilko warehouse staff have made clear they won’t go quietly – having a song and a dance together before their facility is expected to close by the end of the week

A total of 24 shops will close today – with a further 28 shops will shut after trading on Thursday.

These closures will result in 1,016 redundancies, while administrators have also announced hundreds of other job cuts impacting warehouse and support centre staff.

A further 124 shops will shut for good next week as the process continues, with the final 222 stores all due to close by early October.

READ MORE: ‘I’m so gutted, I love my job’: Moment Wilko staffer tears up as troubled retailer begins to shut all stores across the UK today, with more than 100 closing next week in further blow to Britain’s beleaguered high street

Another Wilko worker took to TikTok to shar e the news of her store closure

PwC said the firm’s warehouse will shut on Friday, with final support centre workers leaving in early October as operations completely unwind.

In Bicester, Oxfordshire, Wilko’s is just a two minute walk away from one of its biggest competitors, B&M.

Shoppers in the market town said the closure of Wilko’s was a ‘real shame’ with some questioning how such a beloved store could shut down.

Neil Smith, 65, said: ‘I’ll miss Wilko. It’s another loss for the high street isn’t it. I have no idea what they’ll do with this big shopping unit here – a lot of them just stay empty. Maybe this one will become some kind of hyper-salon or something.

‘I don’t know why they failed, maybe they just don’t have the right stock, but I know the community is disappointed. People have been very critical on social media.

‘I hope that maybe it will come back eventually – but I’m not sure that will happen.’

Meanwhile, locals sports bar manager Graham Perry, 43, added: ‘It’s a real shame for the community I think. Everyone shops here, but it’s just the way the high street is going.

‘I used Wilko sporadically before, there’s always a few bits and pieces, nuts and bolts and cleaning materials you need. Wilko is just one of those shops where you can get everything, and it’s a shame to lose it like we’ve lost other similar shops.

‘The job losses will be a real shame for the area, but we have to move on. There’s nothing else in the town centre now except a B&M, Sainsburys and a Poundland, so I guess I’ll have to use those.’

Others, however, have always chosen B&M and other bargain stores over Wilko.  

B&M shopper Margaret Weston, 68, said: ‘I used to shop at Wilko, but I prefer B&M. I would be much sadder if B&M closed.

‘I just got back from New York yesterday and heard about Wilko closing. It’s a shame about the jobs, but I won’t miss it.

‘There is no product specifically that I will really miss from Wilko – B&M just seems to have everything that they have at Wilko, but for better prices and quality. Things like lighting, and other ‘bits and pieces’.

‘We all buy stuff from Wilko and B&M where it’s only after we see it that we think we need it. Do I need these pillows and boxes I’ve bought? No, probably not. But here we are, look at what I’m holding.’

Youtuber and lifelong Wilko shopper Charlie Flemming – who still calls the shop its former name of Wilkinsons – Mr Fleming believes the high street chain has failed to keep up with competitors such as B&M Bargains in recent years.

The 39-year-old from Hull said: ‘I’ve shopped at Wilko all my life, and so have my family. But it stopped being as good as it used to be in the past five or six years.’

A Wilko shopper in Putney on Monday

HMV owner Doug Putman was behind a planned rescue of around 200 Wilko stores – but the deal collapsed earlier this week

A Wilko store in Maidenhead, Berkshire, earlier this month – which was cleaned out by customers at the start of the company’s collapse

Mr Fleming, who has worked in retail for most of his life and experienced first-hand the demise of high street shops, believes Wilko used to differentiate stores to suit the needs of shoppers in that area.

But in recent years, he thinks they dropped the ball on this and lays the blame of the store’s demise at the feet of its managers.

‘Look at all the gardening stuff,’ he said, pointing to half-empty shelves of compost and tools for pruning plants.

‘We are in Acton – everyone lives in flats and doesn’t have a garden. The shops don’t focus on the areas they are in like they used to.

‘I’m not surprised that they’re shutting down.’

He added: ‘It’s the staff I feel sorry for. All of these people will lose their jobs because the owners and the Wilkinson family let the competition overtake them.

‘It’s not so much the competition overtaking Wilkos – it’s Wilkos who allowed them to overtake them.

‘It used to be for people who didn’t have too much money doing home improvements and stuff.

‘Now, it’s just turned into an overpriced pound shop. I like B&M Bargains and that is way better now.’

Today, as many workers face redundancy, some took to TikTok to find cheerful ways to say goodbye to the retailer, which has been operating since 1930.

One group of female workers at the Wilko’s warehouse sang and clapped as they followed a conga line past the empty stacks of shelves while others pretended to weep in huge clearance bins.

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