A nationwide retailer has announced plans to close stores across the country, including two in Birmingham, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.
Homewares and home goods firm, Wilco, has announced proposals to close 15 stores in the area in 2022, including its Sutton Coldfield, The Fort, Ardington and Redditch stores.
The retailer said it is ‘completely reviewing its store portfolio’ and has decided to close several stores where leases are expiring and ‘favorable terms cannot be agreed’.
read more : Major shopping center to be ‘redeveloped’, says outgoing tenant
Wilco’s Sutton store is in the Red Rose Centre, currently owned by Birmingham City Council, with an Ardington outlet in The Fort Shopping Park and a Redditch store in the Kingfisher Centre.
The firm has said the fort will be among those to close early in February. While the Redditch outlet will close in May and the Sutton Coldfield store is scheduled to close in June 2022.
Wilco, formerly known as Wilkinson Cash Stores and Wilkinson Hardware Stores, or Wilkinson, has approximately 414 stores nationwide and has been in business for more than 90 years.
It said: “The business has several ‘legacy’ locations and has identified some old lease agreements.
“Landlord relationships are changing and now is the time to build a strong foundation and have open dialogue with all landlords to enable Wilco to restructure the portfolio.”
It said shops would remain closed until new terms were agreed upon.
The GMB union described the announcement as ‘another nail in the high street coffin’ and said up to 300 jobs were at risk. Those losses included 22 at Sutton Coldfield, 31 at The Fort and 30 at Redditch.
A spokesman for the firm said: “It is our hope that we will be able to find alternative locations for many of the stores in the vicinity.”
read more : Teenager attacked by Balaclava gang outside McDonald’s
GMB national official Roger Jenkins said: “These closures are devastating to Wilco workers and the communities that use them.
“This is another nail in the coffin of the High Street and calls on GMB councils and landlords to review commercial leases and offer lower rents.
“Empty high streets and shopping centers are in no one’s interest and with 400 shops shut in a week, it is inevitable – unless the cost of the premises can be brought down.
“The GMB will now be meeting with Wilco members to discuss our next steps.”
Other stores affected are Bournemouth, Stockton, Shipley, Scunthorpe, Narborough Road, Grantham, Rotherham, Skagness, Edmonton Green, Llanelli, Merthyr Tydfil and Clearthorpes.
The GMB union said each store would have a 30-day consultation period and that ‘permanent recruitment would stop in the vicinity of each site’.
Wilco CEO Jerome Saint-Marc said: “Our history is steeped in serving our customers and communities since the 1930s, but it cannot be denied that the way people shop with us and where they Wanting to shop with us is changing.
“As a business we are evolving and this includes working with landlords for more favorable terms, as well as looking at locations and store formats. We will continue to come together to improve our business to secure the future of over 16,000 team members.
“We will make every effort to support our affected team members who will be offered any available positions in a nearby store.
“We apologize to communities where stores are closing, but will continue to offer them everything they need in nearby stores or through wilko.com.”