The business was left with “no choice but to take the difficult decision to enter into administration”, said Wilko CEO Mark Jackson.
Administrator PwC said Wilko would continue trading from all stores without any immediate redundancies as discussions with interested parties continued, but closures and redundancies were likely if buyers for some or all of the group were not found
Specialist investor and Laura Ashley owner Gordon Brothers is among those said to have been in involved in earlier rescue talks, after Wilko filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators last week.
“Over the past six months, Wilko has been very open that we’ve been considering options to accelerate a turnaround plan given that we needed to make significant changes to the way we operate to restore confidence and stabilise our business,” Jackson said.
“We left no stone unturned when it came to preserving this incredible business but must concede that with regret, we’ve no choice but to take the difficult decision to enter into administration.
“While we can confirm we had a significant level of interest, including indicative offers that we believe would meet all our financial criteria to recapitalise the business, without the surety of being able to complete the deal within the necessary timeframe and given the cash position, we’ve been left with no choice but to take this unfortunate action.
“I’d like to take this opportunity on behalf of the directors and the Wilkinson family to thank all of our customers, suppliers, partners and our hardworking team members across our stores, logistics and support centre who remained loyal to Wilko.
“We’ve all fought hard to keep this incredible business intact but must concede that time has run out and now, we must do what’s best to preserve as many jobs as possible, for as long as is possible, by working with our appointed administrators.”
The administration follows months of Wilko seeking new financing, attempting to launch a CVA and suffering empty shelves as suppliers abandoned the retailer in light of credit insurance being withdrawn.
A supplier told The Grocer Wilko had been attempting to fill the gaps for the past three or four months by putting in big orders with small businesses, who had refused without payment in advance.
“They tried to put an order in with us worth more than £40k,” said the supplier. “But availability in stores had dropped to 50% when existing suppliers pulled supply as it became clear Wilko could not pay.
“Wilko wouldn’t accept pro-forma terms, which is the only way we could consider it.”