Wilko is back on the high streets with two shops opening for the first time since the discount homeware retailer went into administration.
The first two opened today (December 1) in Plymouth and Exeter before three others will commence trading again in Luton before the end of the year, with more set to follow.
CDS Superstores has said that 300 shops could open after 408 Wilko locations closed in October. The new ventures could include the brand’s first presence in Northern Ireland.
The shops will be selling the familiar mixture of furnishings, DIY products, garden items, and pick & mix.
Former Wilko stores have already been reopening as Poundlands and the 12,500 staff who lost their jobs have been given priority at the new outlets. This includes at B&M, which took on 51 leases of former Wilko sites.
CDS Superstores chief executive Alex Simpkin said: "It's clear that there’s a huge love for Wilko and we’re proud to confirm we’ll be reintroducing the brand to high streets in Plymouth, Exeter and Luton in the coming weeks.”
Why did Wilko close its stores?
Nearly all of the 12,500 jobs at Wilko were lost after the chain collapsed and take-over bids failed. All the 408 shops shut last month.
The company went bust having lost money over several years. It has been speculated that shoppers had begun to look to out-of-town retail sites rather than high streets for the type of homeware that Wilko offers. In addition, Wilko’s website had been criticised for not being joined up with the physical shops, and for having too many stores.
In the aftermath of the collapse, The Range acquired Wilko's intellectual property and website, while B&M bought 51 of the shops.
It was announced previously that Wilko products will be sold in The Range, with five shops would be opening in 2023. This could pave the way for more openings in 2024, including in Northern Ireland, which would be the first time Wilko has had a presence there.
Chief executive of CDS Superstores, trading as The Range and Wilko, Alex Simpkin said: “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.”
He added: “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.”
Which stores are reopening?
Ahead of a national roll-out across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, five stand-alone concept stores will open before Christmas 2023.
Plymouth and Exeter opened Friday, with three Luton stores set to open this month. Wilko has said one in the North is “to be announced imminently”.