Wilko has secured the financing it has been seeking to ensure it won’t run out of money if trading worsens significantly this year.

The household and gardens retailer has agreed a £40m two-year revolving credit facility with Homebase owner Hilco UK.

Wilko has also appointed Chris Howell as chair and non-executive director in the latest leadership change aimed at helping turn around the business’s fortunes.

Major shareholder Lisa Wilkinson will step aside as chair but remain on the board as family director, alongside Dalton Philips, who remains non-executive director.

Howell chairs a number of high-profile UK and international businesses, including Kodak Alaris and D&D London, and is highly experienced in leading companies through challenging situations and change, according to Wilko.

His appointment follows that of Mark Jackson, formerly CEO of Bensons for Beds, as Wilko CEO designate in December, replacing incumbent Wilko chief Jerome Saint-Marc.

Wilko’s recently filed full-year accounts at Companies House said the business was in talks to gain financing needed to preserve liquidity in the event trading declined significantly in 2023. It said the extra financing could be needed on top of £48m already secured from the sale and leaseback of its Worksop distribution centre to DHL in November.

The accounts revealed the retailer fell to a £36.8m loss before tax in the 12 months to 29 January 2022, down from a profit of £4.4m the previous year, against a backdrop of major supply chain disruption and high street footfall decline.

Announcing the latest developments this morning, Wilko said it recognised it had been underperforming and was making strategic changes including accelerating its omni-channel offer and shaking up the leadership team.

It said the new financing would allow it to accelerate its turnaround plans, which also involve negotiations with landlords to secure cheaper rents.

It said Howell’s leadership of the board would ensure smooth transformational change in the short-term and into the future.

In other leadership changes, Natasja Laheij has joined as non-executive director and chair of audit and risk, following the standing down of Chris Martin in November on completion of a three-year stint with Wilko.

Laheij holds a senior finance director EMEA position at Google and is a board member for Google Payments. She previously held a senior finance role at Amazon.

“Our history is steeped in serving customers and communities going back to 1930,” said Lisa Wilkinson.

“Right now we’re making necessary changes to restore confidence and safeguard the future of the business.

“That includes making sure we have the right leadership in place – one aligned team with the right expertise to deliver the retail experience our customers are demanding of us today.”

Union GMB welcomed the changes, saying it was “looking forward to working with new Wilko leadership after chairwoman Lisa Wilkinson stepped down”. 

“Wilko is in desperate need of new direction,” said GMB national officer Nadine Houghton.

“For a long time, GMB members at WIlko have made the case the company can be successful if it gets back to doing what it does best.  

“To do this, Wilko must be genuinely affordable - a good value retailer for hard working families with customers understanding what the brand represents.   

“We look forward to working with the new CEO and board chair to help turn the business around.”