Third blow for West Dunbartonshire as council fear terrible loss of Wilko store

Wilko has entered administration, putting 10 Scottish outlets at risk

By Bill Heaney

West Dunbartonshire took another kick in the teeth when the Clydebank store of Wilko was part of a group that collapsed into administration.

The homeware retailer’s 10 outlets in Scotland have remained open as emergency funding is sought, but the Clydebank store is thought to be one of the ones that are closing for good.

If this happens it will plunge Clydebank shopping centre into the same parlous state as Dumbarton and Vale of Leven’s already dystopian town centres and Helensburgh, which is struggling.

Wilco chief executive Mark Jackson said that management had “left no stone unturned” in its attempts to save the company.

Christine Low, who was in the town with her son Bryce, said it was a “really sad time” for the shop’s staff.

“I don’t know how many people work there but I’ve certainly got people I know that work there,” she said.

“It’s sad for people that could be losing their jobs and there’s not a lot of jobs out there. Wilko is not a big chain in Scotland with only 10 branches.”

From a national perspective, in many of the towns where it has a branch, there will be a real worry over the company’s future and what could happen if stores close.

One of the problems facing Wilko was that its branches were usually in traditional town centres, even though many customers had migrated to either out of town shopping centres or the internet.

But that also means Wilko is often a significant part of those town centres.

Some town centres have suffered appallingly from store closures in recent years. The loss of Wilko would make things worse in Clydebank.

There are questions over how to revive once bustling town and city centres, and you can read elsewhere in The Democrat about the efforts being made locally.

The trend has been against traditional retail. That’s why some councils and local partnerships are keen to explore options which accept that the demand for retail space will not return to its old level.

Instead, the question is how to ensure buildings can find other uses of social or economic value – perhaps housing, student accommodation or space for performances, exhibitions and small businesses.

PwC has been appointed as administrator of Wilko, which has so far been unable to find enough emergency investment to save its 400 shops and 12,500 workers across the UK.

The stores will stay open for now, without any immediate job losses, and staff will continue to be paid.

PwC accountants said it would continue to look for a buyer for all or part of the group.

Wilko boss Mr Jackson said management had “no choice” but but to put the firm into administration.

But the GMB union said the collapse was “entirely avoidable”.

National officer Nadine Houghton said: “GMB has been told time and time again how warnings were made that Wilko was in a prime position to capitalise on the growing bargain retailer market, but simply failed to grasp this opportunity.”

One comment

  1. With all the bankruptcies, companies going into administration, declining public services, under-funded NHS you have got to hand it to our Tory masters in Westminster together with the Brexit set that we are all continuing to reap the benefits.

    And here’s a thing. In 2022 the Republic of Ireland GDP was per capita double that of the the UK.

    And maybe more importantly Ireland’s Human Development Index (or HDI which is a measure of Health, Wealth and Education) placed Ireland in 8th place globally whilst the UK was placed in 18th place globally.

    But do a similar comparison with let us say Norway or even tiny Iceland and you soon realise that whilst we are a mighty military Great Britain with aircraft carriers and nuclear attack submarines, and our military never away from operations (conflicts) around the world, our hapless citezenry are some what less than mighty.

    And now 3 week refuse bin collections. That’ll give us something real to talk about – eh?

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