B&M under fire for leaving 1,000 jobs at risk in deal to buy 51 Wilko stores: 'It's baffling!'

Wilko store

Wilko is closing 52 stores while another 51 properties are set to be bought by B&M

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 07/09/2023

- 15:10

Updated: 12/09/2023

- 15:58

B&M announced this week it planned to buy 51 Wilko stores in a £13million deal

A union has criticised B&M over its decision to buy 51 Wilko stores but not protect the jobs of employees at the locations, who continue to face uncertainty.

The variety store chain is set to buy 51 Wilko stores for up to £13million, but the deal only includes Wilko’s properties and won’t transfer employees currently based at these shops.

It’s understood around 1,000 jobs are at risk at the sites in the B&M deal.

The GMB union, which represents more than 3,000 Wilko staff, has demanded B&M explains why it has opted against saving the jobs of workers at those stores.

Wilko administration sale signs at store

Wilko collapsed into administration last month, putting 12,500 jobs and more than 400 stores at risk


Andy Prendergast, GMB national officer, said: “The fact the deal with B&M is for physical stores only is frankly baffling.

“The company really needs to explain why they are unwilling to transfer in the able, experienced retail staff they will obviously need.

“It looks like a cynical attempt to ditch liabilities and reinforces the view people are treated as the least important part of this process.

“Frankly, the workforce deserves better.”

The locations of the 51 stores being bought by B&M have not been announced.

It’s expected the majority of these stores would rebrand as B&M.

Some could open under the Heron frozen foods brand, also owned by B&M European Value Retail.

PwC, which was appointed as the administrator for Wilko, said on Tuesday that 52 Wilko stores would close and further store closures “may regrettably be necessary” depending on talks with other potential buyers.

The closures have meant redundancies of 1,016 employees based at the sites, with administrators announcing a further 299 redundancies at the two distribution centres in Worksop and Newport.

Professor Nancy Puccinelli, Professor of Management, Marketing, Business and Society at the University of Bath, told GB News: “We’re talking about 10 per cent of Wilko employees losing their jobs with this announcement.

“If the unions secure preferential hiring, those 1,300 people could end up with redundancy pay on top of a new wage from the likes of B&M.

Wilko aisle with no products

The locations of the 51 stores being bought by B&M have not been announced


“I think the hard thing for the employees is the uncertainty.

"In speaking with employees, they find out what is happening through news like the rest of us. I liken it to the US Hockey draft where players learn that they and their families would be moving across the country when the results are broadcast.”

The professor said it was a wise move by other companies to encourage employees to apply for their vacancies.

She said: “Not only is it smart but also an incredible gesture of goodwill that Dunelm and Toolstation are ‘urging’ Wilko employees to apply for jobs.

“According to the British Retail Consortium, ‘job vacancies remaining near record highs’ so those employees made redundant should find they are in demand.”

Wilko fell into administration last month, putting the future of its 12,500 employees and more than 400 stores at risk.

It was announced last month that 269 Support Centre team member roles would be made redundant from Monday, September 4, after a deal to buy the whole of the business fell through.

Administrators also the closure of Kin Limited (Kin), a subsidiary of Wilkinson Hardware Stores Ltd (WHSL), resulting in the redundancies of its 14 employees.

GB News has contacted PwC and Wilko asking for comment.

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