Standalone Wilko stores are to return to the UK before the end of the year, as new owner CDS International looks to begin rebuilding the discount retailer’s physical footprint.
It marks a rapid return to the high street for the 93-year old Wilko brand, just months after the retailer collapsed into administration, leading to the closure and carve-up of its 400 stores. CDS, which also owns The Range chain of hardware and homeware stores, acquired the Wilko brand and e-commerce assets in September, but did not include any physical sites as part of the reported £5m deal.
The new rollout will begin with the opening of five new standalone Wilko concepts before Christmas 2023. Plymouth and Exeter have been confirmed as the first locations. Two other stores will be located in the south east, alongside a further as yet undisclosed, location in the north of the UK.
The openings will be followed by an “aggressive” nationwide rollout across England, Scotland, Wales and, for the first time, Northern Ireland, throughout 2024. Ex-Wilko stores and new sites are both under consideration as part of the rollout, CDS said.
The new stores will stock a range of Wilko own-label products across categories including household, DIY, garden, homeware, pets, storage and seasonal celebrations. Customers will also be able to order home delivery from Wilko.com, using self-serve terminals in store.
“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,” said CDS Superstores CEO Alex Simpkin.
“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.
“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.”
Simpkin said CDS would “endeavour” to give priority to ex-Wilko staffers as it looks recruit for the new stores. CDS’s deal saw a small number of former Wilko digital team employees, thought to number 36, move across to The Range to help integrate the two retailer’s systems. The company relaunched Wilko’s online site earlier in October.
“Our team from Wilko that joined us through the acquisition has shown true resilience, they’ve set to work to integrate the best parts of Wilko into The Range’s operational systems. We’re expanding that team every day with new Wilko hires and can’t wait to extend that back out to local communities,” Simpkin said.
In September, discounter B&M acquired 51 former Wilko stores, which it plans to reopen under its own fascia. Fellow discounter Poundland acquired 71 former stores, and began the process of reopening former Wilko sites under its own banner last month.