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Source: Wilko

The 93-year-old retailer collapsed into administration last week

A slew of retailers including Holland & Barrett, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have rallied to support Wilko employees, including by inviting them to apply for roles, following the ailing discounter’s fall into administration last week.

The family-owned retailer collapsed into administration last Thursday, leaving the future of 12,000 employees as well as its nearly 400 stores uncertain. No jobs are immediately at risk, as stores will continue to trade while a new buyer is sought. However, interested parties have until Wednesday 16 August to submit offers under a deadline set by administrator PWC, according to a report by Sky News today.

On Monday, Holland & Barrett posted on the company’s LinkedIn page urging Wilko workers to apply for roles within its retail, commercial, product development, marketing, technology and data functions, as well as in finance.

“At H&B we understand that uncertain times can bring challenging news, and we want to extend our thoughts to those affected by the recent news that Wilko is potentially putting employees at risk of redundancy,” the post read.

The sentiment echoed that expressed in callouts from Tesco, Morrisons, Asda and Sainsbury’s last week, which also all advertised available roles in stores and head office.

Sainsbury’s head of talent Liz Crehan explicitly appealed for affected Wilko employees to apply for retail manager roles across Sainsbury’s and Argos stores in the north of England.

Tesco appealed for applicants in stores, distribution centres and offices. “We were truly sorry to learn the news about Wilko,” it said. “Our thoughts are with you and your families at what we’re sure is a really difficult time. 

“Uncertainty about your career can be scary, so we just want to let you know that, when you’re ready, we’re here for you,” its LinkedIn post said.

Others have leant support in other ways, like the store management team at M&S’s Stockport store, who handed out treats to Wilko workers in the store next door, according to a post from CEO Stuart Machin.

Outside grocery, ToolStation and NHS Supply Chain were among the organisations to also issue appeals for applications.

The writing had been on the wall

Although the writing had been on the wall following a series of tough results, Wilko’s collapse has been met with an outpouring of sadness from across the industry and beyond, with some comparing it with the loss of Woolworths in 2008.

Over the past few months the 93-year-old home and garden retailer had been working with PwC to balance its books as it sought new sources of financing. It included the axing of 150 assistant store manager roles in February, and an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to seek a company voluntary arrangement in July.

Following the collapse of last-minute talks, on 3 August CEO Mark Jackson announced plans to appoint administrators.

“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,” Jackson said at the time.