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Gloucestershire Business News

Wilko: Union seeks urgent meeting with Business Secretary

A union representing thousands of Wilko staff is calling for an urgent meeting with the Business Secretary.

The GMB union was reportedly told by potential rescuers that there were "difficulties" in engaging with administrators PWC, which will decide on the retailer's future, as reported by The Guardian.

Yesterday (August 28), GMB national secretary, Andy Prendergast, wrote to Kemi Badenoch, asking her to ensure PWC considered all bids for the retailer, which has stores in Gloucester, Cheltenham and Stroud.

Its shops are expected to close within weeks, with 12,500 jobs hanging in the balance, unless a buyout can be secured.

It's thought there are currently at least three bidders interested in taking on the chain and retaining jobs.

Doug Putman, a Canadian entrepreneur who returned the HMV to profit, last week submitted an offer which would mean stores would continue to operate under the Wilko brand.

M2 Capital, a UK-Canadian private equity firm, also put forward a bid on Friday (August 25). At least one other potential bidder from the UK is said to be considering making an offer.

Any new bid will face a race against time to save jobs, after PwC said last week that it was likely most of Wilko's stores would close. Although stores are currently open and continuing to trade, a decision on the first store closures could be made this week.

In the letter to Badenoch, Prendergast said he was concerned that bidders had reported "difficulties engaging the appointed administrators" and that these bidders have the funding and willingness to invest in the retailer and safeguard jobs.

PWC said it has worked relentlessly to secure a sale of the business and talks are continuing 'with a number of parties'. It said its intention is to achieve the best outcome for everyone involved, including preserving as many jobs as possible.

The GMB said no redundancies should take place at Wilko if meaningful offers are on the table which will protect jobs. While the business secretary would be unable to intervene directly in the administration, she could put pressure on parties to try to save jobs.

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