The Range acquires Wilko brand in £5m deal
In a significant development, The Range, led by entrepreneur Chris Dawson, has successfully acquired the Wilko brand in a deal worth approximately £5 million.
This acquisition is set to be officially confirmed by Wilko’s administrator, PwC, later today, marking a pivotal moment in the retail landscape.
The Range emerged victorious in a fierce competition against online marketplace OnBuy to secure the valuable assets of the Wilko brand. This strategic move opens up various possibilities for The Range, including the potential to continue offering Wilko-branded products both in its physical stores and online.
Dawson, the driving force behind The Range, has propelled the company’s growth to over 200 stores and is actively pursuing expansion opportunities. Notably, The Range is in the final stages of developing what it claims to be the largest distribution center constructed in the UK in the past five years. This state-of-the-art facility will play a pivotal role in fueling the company’s ambitious growth strategy.
This development comes at a critical juncture for Wilko, as its 400 stores are slated for closure following the collapse of HMV owner Doug Putman’s offer to acquire the majority of its shops. However, B&M has inked a deal to acquire 52 stores, while Poundland recently secured 71 shops, intending to rebrand them. Poundland has also expressed its commitment to providing priority consideration to Wilko staff for roles at the acquired shops.
Regrettably, thousands of jobs are expected to be lost due to the store closures.
Earlier this week, 9,100 workers were informed of impending job losses by early October. A total of 124 stores will cease operations by next Thursday (September 21), with the retailer’s distribution center concluding operations on Friday (September 15). Further redundancies among the remaining 210 support center employees will occur later this month and early October as operations wind down.
Retail analyst Catherine Shuttleworth has applauded The Range’s acquisition of the Wilko brand as a “smart move,” emphasising that the challenge with Wilko was not the brand itself but rather how the business was managed. This acquisition holds significant potential for The Range, allowing them to leverage the brand across their estate, both online and in select geographic locations.
Founded in 1930, Wilko has been a fixture on High Streets throughout the UK. However, the company faced insurmountable losses and a cash shortage, leading to its administration in August. Despite initial hopes to keep a substantial number of Wilko shops open, Doug Putman’s bid failed to gain traction, ultimately leading to the dissolution of the brand’s presence in the retail landscape.
The acquisition spree by rivals Poundland and B&M further solidifies the changing dynamics of the retail sector, with redundancies looming for the majority of Wilko’s 12,500 staff. As of now, over 1,016 redundancies have been announced at closing stores, with an additional 299 redundancies at the distribution centers, which are set to close next week. Moreover, more than 260 redundancies have occurred at the support center.
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