The ex-employees of a Wilko distribution centre which employed 1,200 workers have expressed concerns over their future after the high street giant collapsed.
The discount hardware and furnishings chain has been shutting its 400 UK stores over the past month after tumbling into administration in August.
Wilko disappeared from the high street for good on October 8, as devastated shoppers managed to get their hands on final price bargains.
Store shelves have already become bare as it sells off its last remaining products in order to recover more cash to help repay outstanding debts.
Staff have expressed their disappointment as thousands were made redundant. More than a month ago, Wilko closed its distribution centre in Worksop.
Former team leader, Craig Stringfellow, 55, has managed to get a new job at a sandwich factory, but says he has had ‘sleepless night’s about his former employees.
Mr Stringfellow told the BBC’s File on 4: ‘I am concerned because there’s some people I worked with who aren’t able to read and write and can’t drive.’
Former team leader, Craig Stringfellow, 55, (pictured) has managed to get a new job at a sandwich factory, but says he has had ‘sleepless night’s about his former employees
Pat Leviers, 62, (pictured) lives in Worksop with her daughter, Jayne, who suffers with fibromyalgia, scoliosis, and osteoarthritis and said night shifts meant she was able to look after her daughter in the day
He said that he has helped a couple of his former colleagues fill out CVs to try and bag them another job, but believes that ‘some people are going to suffer,’ due to the ratio of redundancies to available jobs.
The centre in Worksop employed more than 1,200 people alone, who made up almost a tenth of the 12,500 workers who have lost their jobs.
The local Citizen’s Advice centre told the outlet that those in the area had debts totalling £1.9m in April. This has increased by £900,000 compared to last year and is a record-level figure.
Bassetlaw has around 117,800 residents of which 2,195 were unemployed and on benefits before the Wilko centre closed down.
Pat Leviers, 62, lives in Worksop with her daughter, Jayne, who suffers with fibromyalgia, scoliosis, and osteoarthritis.
Working nights at the distribution centre meant that Ms Leviers was able to look after her daughter – who also worked for Wilko but was on sick leave – during the day.
She also told the BBC: ‘When Jayne is having bad days, sometimes she can’t even walk, she can’t get in the bath if I’m not in the house because she can’t get out.’
Ms Leviers said she has applied for ‘hundreds’ of other jobs and questioned how people manage to lived on Job Seekers benefit of ‘£84 a week.’
Jim, 47, worked for the bargain homeware store ever since he graduated from university.
‘I had the first meeting with job seekers, and I was quite upbeat going into it but came out afterwards feeling a bit demoralised,’ he told the BBC.
A month after losing his job, Jim managed to secure a finance role at his daughter’s school – after doing his first job interview in 25 years.
This comes as Wilko relaunched online lasy Friday, less than a week after the 93-year-old retailer shut the doors of its last high street shops for the final time following its collapse.
The discount hardware and furnishings chain has been shutting its 400 UK stores over the past month after tumbling into administration in August
Jim, 47, (pictured) worked for the bargain homeware store ever since he graduated from university
The centre in Worksop (pictured) employed more than 1,200 people alone, who made up almost a tenth of the 12,500 workers who have lost their jobs
The Wilko.com website has appeared again after rival discount retailer The Range struck a deal to buy its brand, website and intellectual property for £5million.
Wilko has now recommenced selling thousands of products across its home, garden and cleaning markets, with hundreds of new lines and own brands to be added daily.
Sources close to the brand told MailOnline they were keen for consumers to know Wilko.com is the official website after police issued a warning when some shoppers reported losing hundreds of pounds on a bogus website for the collapsed retailer.
It comes as the business also confirmed shoppers will start to see Wilko branded products appear in The Range stores across the UK towards the end of this month.
The Range is not expected to set up standalone Wilko shops, but it has now restarted home deliveries of discount hardware and furnishings through the Wilko website.
Over the past couple of months, workers at the high street chain have attempted to make memories at the stores before they shut down.
A man proposed to his long-term partner in the Wilko branch where she worked at the end of August.
Nick Payne shocked his girlfriend Sally Allen by popping the question inside the Nottingham store, in front of her colleagues and passing shoppers.
A moving video showing the moment he proposed went viral as staff had their cameras at the ready.
Nick, 46, explained to MailOnline why he opted for the unlikely proposal setting: ‘I decided on Wilko because it is a very special place to Sally.
‘She loves her job there, she has made some really close friends and with what is going on at the moment with the threatened closure, I thought it would give everyone a lift. If it was to close down then what a memory to take with you.’
Store worker Sally, 44, was just finishing her early shift when Nick stunned her with the romantic gesture.
She said. ‘I had no idea. It had been such a busy day in the store. I had started work at 6am and was just looking forward to getting home and going to bed.’
Sally got her job in Wilko’s Bulwell store in Nottingham four years ago and says it has been the happiest time of her working life.
Sally said: ‘It has been a very sad time for all of us who love Wilko, especially us who work for the store.
‘It doesn’t deserve to close. It is a local institution and people love shopping there and they always employ enough staff to keep things smooth for the customer.
‘After Covid, things definitely went quieter and now the cost of living crisis has hit our customer base hard.
Store shelves became bare as it sells off its last remaining products in order to recover more cash to help repay outstanding debts
It will bring to a close one of the largest high street failures in recent years, with almost all of Wilko’s 12,500 workers being made redundant
Wilko has now shut all of its stores on the high street. Pictured: The Cardiff Bay Wilko store
‘I hope the store can keep going. If it doesn’t then our wedding will be like a reunion because they will all be invited.’
Wilko employees have shared their heartbreak at losing their jobs at the homeware chain.
One Wilko worker filmed herself sharing her pain at learning the news outside her branch in Thetford, Norfolk, posting it to her TikTok profile.
The employee, using the handle @whayley, said: ‘I’m gutted myself, I love my job.’
She added: ‘I don’t know how they expect us to keep doing this with that news, it’s… the whole thing’s really demoralising.
‘If you haven’t read the news already all the Wilko stores in the country will be closed by early-to-mind October, which means my job is down the s******.’
Her voice audibly breaking throughout the clip, she adds: ‘Between now and next week there’s 200-something stores closing.
‘It’s in the news. This isn’t even me like, spreading secrets, this is literally in the news.
‘So – sorry guys, my colleagues across the country, I am so, so, so gutted for you. I’m just gutted full stop.’
Members of staff took to LinkedIn to post emotional goodbyes to their teams as they reflected over their time with the retail giant last month.
Teammates showed each other a heartwarming display of support, wishing fellow staff members ‘good luck’ and vouching for their talents.
One member of staff who would be walking away from the high-street chain after joining when she was still a teenager, posted a pithy message on LinkedIn that revealed the gravity of the loss felt by Wilko workers.
‘It seems fitting that my first LinkedIn post is about wilko. Yesterday marked my last day after 7 years in a business and role I’ve loved and will certainly miss.
‘I joined when I was 19 and during my time I’ve worked with and for some amazing people.
‘I’m truly grateful for all the opportunities presented to me, I’ve learnt so much, gained new skills and enjoyed every second. I’ll look back with great fondness and fab memories.
‘But right now I’m looking forward for the next challenge, onwards and upwards from here! Wishing the best of luck to all my friends and colleagues in this weird new world’.
A space planning assistant manager at Wilko posted: To say I’m devastated is an understatement.
‘I’m saddened that my Wilko career has come to an end like this. If anyone knows of any roles that might suit my skills then please get in touch’.
The family-owned business hired administrators from PwC after it came under pressure from weak consumer spending and debts to suppliers.
A man proposed to his long-term partner in the Wilko branch where she worked at the end of August
The Wilko employee pulled a grim expression as she told her TikTok followers the news, and said she was ‘gutted’ to lose her job at the store in Thetford, Norfolk
PwC then held talks with interested firms but was unable to secure a rescue deal for the whole firm, with a potential takeover by HMV owner Doug Putman collapsing.
As a result, administrators sold off a raft of the company’s assets in order to pay off creditors.
Deals were agreed to sell up to 71 stores to Poundland, and to sell up to 51 shops to fellow rival discounter B&M. However, both deals did not include staff.
Last week, Poundland said it had offered jobs to more than 200 former Wilko workers and has already reopened 20 of these sites under its brand.
However, the Times has reported that some of the store takeovers could fail after the new owners were accused of delaying completion with efforts to set up new rent and lease arrangement with move favourable terms.
The Wilko brand will not disappear from the high street completely despite the collapse, after The Range struck a deal to buy its brand, website and intellectual property for £5 million.
The Range said it will sell Wilko products ‘in-store’, although it is currently not expected to set up standalone Wilko shops.
It is set to restart home deliveries through wilko.com after the closure of Wilko’s remaining stores.
Administrators for Wilko confirmed in filings last week that the business owed around £625 million when it went bust.
The documents also showed the retailer’s pension fund was left more than £50 million in deficit and is unlikely to receive more than £4 million following the insolvency process.
Wilko was originally founded by James Kemsey Wilkinson in Leicester in 1930.
Wilko, known then as Wilkinson’s, started as a single hardware store 151 Charnwood Street in Leicester in 1930
The first every Wilkinson shop (pictured) on Charnwood Street
Wilko, known then as Wilkinson’s, started as a single hardware store on 151 Charnwood Street.
The shop – known as ‘Old Charney’ was opened by JK Wilkinson and then Mary Cooper, who were engaged to be married at the time. Since the couple opened the first shop, the business has remained in the Wilkinson family.
The budget-brand has remained on our high streets, whilst other companies such as BM and Home Bargains have moved to retail parks. Some critics say this could have contributed to the businesses difficulties.
By the end of the 90s there were 152 shops and by 2008 there was even a Wilko Asia.
But returning to the early 200s, in 2005 Wilkinson Plus – the online shopping platform – was launched.
In 2010 the re-brand programme of Wilkinson becaming Wilko – the name used on it’s own-brad products – began. The company launched its new strapline, ‘where there’s a Wilko, there’s a way’. Wilko expanded in 2018 with shops opening in Delhi and Istanbul.
Dr Amna Khan, consumer behaviour and retail expert at Manchester Metropolitan University, told MailOnline that Wilko has failed to stay relevant.
‘When consumers think discount, they think BM, Home Bargains, or even the middle isle on their Aldi shop,’ Dr Khan said.
She added: ‘One thing about Wilko is there hasn’t been an online push.
‘There are many valuables in having in-store products, but there are too many frictions stopping the consumer – while other competitors have made it frictionless.
Pictured: Customers queuing up to buy budget-friendly goods at Wilkinson, believed to be in the 90s
Dr Amna Khan, consumer behaviour and retail expert at Manchester Metropolitan University, told MailOnline that Wilko has failed to stay relevant
The budget-chain has become a staple for Britain’s shoppers who are after stationery, gardening supplies, homeware, cleaning products, or just a pot of pick-and-mix
‘With consumer expectations, the bar is only going up. [Brands] are constantly having to reinvent and invest to really keep that bar high.’
Dr Khan said inflationary pressures and the increasingly competitive market are part responsible. But she also added that Wilko ‘doesn’t have the brand love that other competitors might have’.
‘The situation is as such because of the way the consumer has changed and the increasingly competitive market.
‘[Wilko] struggles with some of the locations it’s in, you have to make a destination shop. Other companies such as Poundland are aggressively starting to grow in many different formats.
‘With inflationary pressures it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to manage costs and when you have products that aren’t everyday consumbles such as food, consumers can quite easily cut them, they can go without,’ she added.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
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