Wilko stores are to close within weeks after talks to rescue the group collapsed, with union GMB informed that the majority of its 400 shops will be shuttered.
The union was informed by administrator PwC that there was “no prospect that the majority of the business will be saved”.
PwC said it had held “extensive” discussions with parties that had expressed an interest in the business however “it’s clear that the nature of this interest is not focused on the whole group”.
The closures signal mass redundancies for Wilko’s 12,500 staff with “significant” job losses now expected, according to GMB.
PwC administrators said: “We know this will further add to the uncertainty felt by workers. We will be supporting staff through this deeply unsettling time, working closely with the government, JobCentre plus, unions and large employers to maximise possibilities for a rapid return to work for employees in the event of redundancies.”
“In the immediate term, all stores remain open, continue to trade and staff continue to be paid.”
Despite the prospect of a rescue of the group disappearing, there is still hope that some Wilko stores may be bought, either individually or as part of larger packages.
It is understood that Poundland owner Pepco Group is in discussions to acquire around 100 stores, according to Sky News, whilst B&M could take between 40 to 50 shops.
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TOFS, formerly known as The Original Factory Shop, is also thought to have bid for a tranche of around 10 stores. An announcement on some of these deals could be made on Thursday.
Despite the scramble to pick up stores, thousands of jobs look set to be lost.
GMB national secretary Andy Prendergast said: “GMB Union will continue to support members through this process and will fight to ensure members are consulted as per the law and that you receive every penny you are entitled to.
“We will fight to ensure Wilko bosses are held accountable for the simple reason our members deserve so much better.
“GMB will not forget the incompetence that has led to this collapse and will we not forget the dividends paid to the millionaires who gambled your jobs on their whims.
Wilko plunged into administration two weeks ago after it failed to secure a rescue deal to fund the struggling firm.
CEO Mark Jackson said at the time: “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.”
Wilko, which was founded in the 1930s in Leicester and grew to 400 stores, has been struggling for some time.
The retailer had battled poor availability after credit insurance was pulled late last year, which had left gaps on its shelves ever since.