Wilko’s last-ditch bid for survival with man who saved HMV is ‘stone dead’ | Personal Finance | Finance


Union leaders have called for Wilko’s 12,500 employees to be prioritised after a deal that could have rescued their jobs becomes “stone dead”.

The bid was rejected as its debt holders could recover more money if the business is broken down.

Doug Putman, the Canadian entrepreneur who rescued HMV from administration in 2019 and returned it to profit, is understood to have been attempting to take on half of Wilko’s vulnerable employees however his offer could not match the cash raised from liquidating the chain’s assets, including its leaseholds and stock.

It is understood that PwC has given a deadline for all final offers today, so there is a chance that Putman could come back with a raised bid, but sources said the deals he had put forward so far had “never been credible”.

“The deal is stone dead,” a source close to the talks said.

There are said to be 400 staff members who could face losing their jobs once the business closes down.

Mr Putman attempted to take on 200 of them and continue operating them under the Wilko brand, saving jobs and helping keep orders flowing for suppliers.

Sources say the entrepreneur was in talks with Wilko administrators at PwC for at least two weeks but his offer couldn’t match the cash made by breaking the company down.

Wilko’s biggest creditor is restructuring specialist Hilco, which loaned the company £40million shortly before it went bust.

Andy Prendergast, the national secretary of the GMB union, said: “Working people’s livelihoods should not be treated like chess pieces – to be traded off against the interests of the wealthy.

“Any resolution to the Wilko debacle needs to prioritise their interests.”

The retailer filed a notice of its intention to appoint PwC at the beginning of the month but had hoped to figure out a sale in the mean time.

Administrators from PwC said on Wednesday evening that it was “likely that there will be redundancies and store closures in the future” as they had not found a buyer for the whole group.

Closures are expected to begin within weeks.

A spokesperson for the administrators said: “Since our appointment as administrators of Wilko we have worked relentlessly to secure a sale of the business, and talks are continuing with a number of parties.

“As administrators, we’re intent on achieving the best outcome for everyone involved while preserving as many jobs as possible and adhering to our statutory duty to act in the best interests of the creditors as a whole.

“It would be inappropriate to comment on individual bidders or interested parties at this stage in the process.”


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