Wilko owners, the Wilkinson family, are said to be considering relinquishing their stake in the retail chain as it looks to raise significant new funding.
Sky News reports that the family behind retailer Wilko is exploring a change of ownership for the first time in a bid to salvage the chain’s future, adding that advisers to Wilko have begun discussions with potential buyers of the business in the last few days.
According to the article, retail industry sources said a number of large general merchandise chains have been approached about recapitalising the business in a deal that could see the Wilkinson family relinquish majority control.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which is advising Wilko, had already started discussions with prospective financial investors about raising new equity, and the business was said to be considering a CVA as a means of cutting costs, triggering rent cuts at hundreds of stores. Under the terms of the CVA proposals, no store closures would take place. However, this now looks increasingly unlikely as Wilko seeks new funding.
In a statement issued to Sky News, Mark Jackson, Wilko chief executive, said: “We’ve been very open that we’re exploring all the options available to rebound as a business and maximise the significant opportunities that we know exist. We have a clear and defined turnaround plan put together by a refreshed and experienced management team to re-establish a profitable Wilko that delivers significant return, accelerated by the investment needed.”
Wilko employs approximately 12,000 staff and currently operates 400 stores, making it one of the largest privately owned retailers in Britain.
“We are actively out across the UK and international markets continuing external conversations and welcoming new approaches to recapitalise the business through a combination of refinancing options of debt and equity release to provide a stable platform to activate the next phase of the recovery,” added Mark Jackson.
Wilko previously secured a £40m loan from Hilco UK, the specialist retail investor and lender which owns Homebase. Sky News also revealed last month that the retailer had drafted in property advisers from CBRE ahead of crunch talks with landlords about slashing rents across its store estate.