Rishi Sunak pledges support for redundant Wilko workers amid chain’s collapse
The Prime Minister has pledged full support for those impacted by Wilko’s collapse and its resulting lay-offs.
Rishi Sunak’s comments were in response to Tory former minister Brendan Clarke-Smith, who urged the Government to safeguard redundancies and pensions, and hold the company’s ownership accountable for the chain’s demise.
The retailer, founded in Leicester in 1930, plunged into administration last month after struggling with losses.
Earlier this week, administrators confirmed all Wilko’s remaining shop, warehouse and support centre workers are set to lose their jobs after failing to secure a rescue deal.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Clarke-Smith said: "This week we were hit by the devastating news that all Wilko stores would be closing, meaning the loss of 12,500 jobs.
"Bassetlaw and Worksop are the home of Wilko’s HQ and a distribution centre, with 1,500 jobs set to go."
After arguing that "Wilko has been mismanaged for years", he added: "Can the Prime Minister reassure my constituents and all those nationally affected by the demise of Wilko that he and the Government will do everything in their power to help support people into jobs and make sure their redundancies and pensions are protected, and that we will take whatever action is available to us to hold the ownership to account?"
The PM replied: "As he knows, some of the topics that he raised will be commercial matters for the company.
"I do know that this is a concerning time for workers at Wilko. The Business Secretary is keeping close to developments and we have already started supporting those who have been made redundant, and we stand ready to support others to the fullest of our abilities."
On Tuesday, Poundland owner Pepco agreed to buy up to 71 Wilko stores following the collapse of the high street chain.
PwC, administrators for Wilko, said Pepco has sealed a deal which will see the stores reopened under the Poundland brand.
Workers at the stores will not be transferred directly as part of the move but Poundland has said it will "prioritise" existing Wilko workers for roles when the shops are opened under the new brand.