Wilko Stores to Make a Comeback on the High Street Ahead of the Christmas Season

credit: dailystar.co.uk

London (Parliament Politic Magazine) – The New Owner of Wilko Plans to Reintroduce the Brand to the High Street, Opening Up to Five Stores Ahead of Christmas. The Range, the company that acquired Wilko’s website and assets following its collapse, is set to revive the Wilko brand with the launch of its first two stores in Plymouth and Exeter.

The CEO of The Range expressed the strong affection people have for Wilko, highlighting its enduring popularity. Wilko faced a major setback in early August, resulting in the closure of its 408 stores and significant job losses, particularly in traditional town centers.

CDS Superstores to Reopen Wilko Stores on High Street Before Christmas

CDS Superstores, the parent company of The Range, has committed to giving priority to former Wilko employees during the hiring process for the new stores. Initially, when CDS acquired the brand, the plan was to integrate some Wilko products into its existing stores, rather than opening new Wilko-branded stores.

Alex Simpkin, the CEO, commented, “The public’s response to the closure of Wilko stores was unmistakable. This is why we have chosen to bring Wilko back to the High Streets and communities it once proudly served.”

The preference for larger retail parks and out-of-town shopping options with increased space has become more pronounced since the onset of the pandemic. This shift, coupled with Wilko’s challenges in staying competitive against other discount retailers like The Range, B&M, and Poundland, contributed in part to its downfall.

Challenges Faced by Wilko: Supply Issues and Competition

Shoppers also raised concerns about their struggles to find desired products on Wilko’s shelves due to the company’s difficulties in meeting supplier payments. Furthermore, at least one credit insurer withdrew its coverage, causing some suppliers to halt deliveries to the stores.

Kate Hardcastle, a consumer specialist at Insight with Passion, explained that some customers also expressed frustration at finding pricier brands in Wilko outlets and a delay in the introduction of new styles and trends. 

She noted, however, that CDS, being highly experienced in value retail and equipped with data insights, is well-positioned to discern what sells and identify areas of strong customer affinity for Wilko.

CDS Superstores is set to open up to five Wilko stores before Christmas, a critical trading period for retailers. They have already secured leases for two High Street locations in Devon, which will serve as “concept” stores. Two more locations in the South-East of England and one in the North of England are expected to be announced shortly.

Ms. Hardcastle added that during the months leading up to Christmas, when people are purchasing gifts and enhancing their homes, a store like Wilko is poised for success as it offers a wide range of products, including gift wrap, decor, DIY, and cleaning items.

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CDS Superstores Plans for New Wilko Shops: Diverse Locations and Products

For the first time, CDS plans to launch Wilko-branded stores in Northern Ireland, expanding the brand’s reach.

Wilko, which had its beginnings in 1930 when JK Wilkinson opened his first store in Leicester, initially expanded across the Midlands and, by the 1990s, became one of the fastest-growing retailers in Britain.

However, following the company’s descent into administration, other rivals such as B&M and Poundland seized the opportunity to acquire numerous stores and rebrand them under their own names.

The proprietor of The Range, in a transaction valued at £5 million, reached an agreement to purchase the Wilko brand. This agreement came after a separate rescue attempt for the entire business was unsuccessful.

CDS Superstores is currently in negotiations with landlords to explore a combination of former Wilko locations and new sites for their upcoming shops. These five shops, slated for opening before Christmas, will offer distinct layouts, including single-level, split-level, and a potential out-of-town retail park option. They are intended to be permanent establishments rather than temporary “pop-up” stores.

CDS has announced that these new shops will feature a wide range of Wilko products, spanning cleaning and household items to DIY and household goods.

In a statement released on Friday, the company indicated that this rollout will continue into the following year, and they have ambitious plans to establish hundreds of shops in the coming years.

Richard Lim, CEO of Retail Economics, noted that the new shops stand to benefit from the existing scale and systems of The Range, making it a compelling development

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.