UK: Wilko brings down the curtain, 12,500 employees left behind

The message appears in large letters, on a red background, on the home page of Wilko’s website. An “open letter” signed by Mark Jackson, CEO of Wilko, in which the head of the British retail chain explains to his clients the bankruptcy of his group. “We have spared no effort to preserve this incredible business, but I must admit, with regret, that we have no choice but to make the difficult decision to administratively close.”he explains.

The brand, whose history dates back to 1930 with the opening of a small hardware store in Leicester, employed more than 14,000 people in 2022. Subject to compulsory liquidation on August 10 – following the failure of the acquisition process started a few months earlier under the PwC company leadership – the company has just announced the closure of these approximately 400 points of sale and sales call centers, which resulted in the loss of almost 12,500 jobs.

A quarter of employees will not be entitled to severance pay

The GMB union, which engaged in a long battle with the group’s management in 2017 against a plan to cut 4,000 jobs, denounces the company’s management and the greed of the group’s shareholders. So what “Layoffs will begin next week.specifies the union, GMB will not forget the incompetence that led to this collapse”warns its national secretary, Andy Prendergast.

“We won’t forget it either. the dividends paid to millionaires who put workers’ jobs at risk, according to their whims”, continues the unionist. First in 2017 and then in 2022, the two waves of social plans decided by management to consolidate the group’s finances resulted in the payment of £3 million (€3.5 million) in dividends to the Wilkinson family, owner of the brand.

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Today, “Thousands of families across the UK will be affected by this terrible decision and probably more than a quarter of employees will not be entitled to redundancy pay because they have been with the company for too short a period of time.”criticized Gary Smith, general secretary of GMB, on Sky News.

Keir Starmer, leader of the Labor opposition, denounced on social networks a new “devastating for employees and their families and a new symptom” of the Conservative Party government, in power for thirteen years.

Vince Fernandez

"Professional food trailblazer. Devoted communicator. Friendly writer. Avid problem solver. Tv aficionado. Lifelong social media fanatic."

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