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Logo used since 2008.
Product type
OwnerThe Range
CountryUnited Kingdom
Introduced1973 (products)
2012 (stores)
Previous ownersWilko Limited
Logo used from 1977 to 2008.

Wilko (and wilko.com) is a retail chain owned by The Range since 2023, prior to which it was owned by Wilko Limited, founded in the United Kingdom in 1930.

The retail chain Wilko Limited[1] (formerly Wilkinson Cash Stores Limited,[citation needed] Wilkinson Hardware Stores Limited,[2] and Wilko Retail Limited[3]) was founded in Leicester by James Kemsey Wilkinson in 1930, and remained in the ownership of the founding family before it went into administration.[4] The chain entered administration in August 2023 after being faced with financial and supply issues for some time, which put 12,500 jobs at risk.[4]

The Range acquired the Wilko brand, website and intellectual property the following month.[5] The final stores under the previous ownership closed on 8 October 2023.[6] Wilko was relaunched as an online store and a brand of The Range on 12 October 2023.[7]


A branch in Castleford in 'Wilkinson' branding in 2010
Interior of a Wilko branch in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.

The first Wilkinson store was opened by James Kemsey Wilkinson and his fiancee Mary Cooper at 151 Charnwood Street, Leicester in 1930, and a second store was opened in Wigston Magna, near Leicester, in 1932. Nine branches were opened by 1939.[8]

The Beaconsfield store can be seen in the background of a scene in the film Brief Encounter (1945).[citation needed] By the end of the 1980s, the chain had 78 stores, increasing to over 152 by the end of the 1990s.[8]

The founder's son, Tony Wilkinson, joined the company as a branch manager in 1960 and succeeded his father as chairman in 1972, retiring in June 2005. Tony was succeeded by his daughter, Lisa Wilkinson, and his niece, Karin Swann.[9]

Wilkinson opened its first Scottish outlet in Castle Douglas in January 2009.[10]

In 2012, Wilkinson began rebranding its stores as Wilko, after its own brand products already marketed under the Wilko name, and by 2014, most stores had been rebranded.[11][12][13] Prior to the rebranding, the abbreviation Wilko had been commonly used as an informal reference to the brand.[citation needed]

In 2014, Karin Swann sold her 50% holding in the business to Lisa, leaving Tony, his wife Christine and Lisa the sole owners of the company, and Lisa the chairman. Swann wanted to pursue other business interests and the decision did not represent a falling-out of the family.[14]

In August 2017, Wilko began negotiations with the GMB trade union over the company's plan to cut 4,000 jobs.[15] The board paid the family owners a £3 million dividend.[16]

In March 2018, Wilko began to sell 285 of its own brand products in Dubai through Ace Hardware, marking the first time that Wilko had sold through another retailer.[17]

In June 2020, Warpaint London, a cosmetics company, signed a deal with Wilko to sell their products in UK shops.[18]

In January 2022, Wilko announced the closure of 15 stores with costly long leases.[19] Wilko paid its owners, led by the Wilkinson family, a £3 million dividend again.[20]


Administration sale, Chester, September 2023

In January 2023, Wilko confirmed it had borrowed £40 million from the restructuring firm Hilco Capital.[20] It followed this in February with plans to cut up to 400 jobs.[21]

On 3 August 2023, Wilko announced its intention to appoint administrators as it was seeking a buyer following a period of difficult trading conditions.[22] The company entered administration on 10 August.[4] CEO Mark Jackson said management would work with administrators PwC to "preserve as many jobs as possible".[23][24] A deadline for offers to acquire the business was set for 16 August 2023.[25]

The former Wilko store in Chester reopened as a branch of Poundland. Outline of the old Wilko sign remains visible on the wooden fascia. December 2023
A Wilko branch in Maidenhead, Berkshire in the process of reopening and rebranding as a branch of Poundland in October 2023

Wilko collapsed with the loss of over 12,000 jobs, £625 million in debt and a £50 million pension deficit.[26] During the administration process, it was reported that its owners had taken £77 million out of the company in the preceding decade.[27]

In September 2023, B&M bought 51 Wilko stores for £13 million.[28] Poundland acquired 71 Wilko stores and stated it would prioritise the recruitment of former Wilko staff.[29][30] The Range acquired the Wilko brand, website and intellectual property for £7 million.[5][31] 36 workers from Wilko's digital team transferred over to The Range as part of the deal.[5] The final stores under the previous ownership closed on 8 October 2023.[6]


The Wilko website was relaunched by The Range on 12 October 2023 and resumed home delivery.[7] The Range started stocking Wilko brand products in its stores from 27 October 2023.[32] Three stores in Plymouth, Exeter, and Luton were reopened in December 2023.[33] Two stores in Rotherham and St Albans reopened in spring 2024.[34]


The company awarded a five-year logistics contract to Wincanton plc in March 2017, replacing Canute Haulage Group after 29 years.[35]

In September 2019, the GMB union announced that its members would strike over a new weekend working proposal at the distribution centres. The strikes planned for four dates in October 2019 were called off after an improved offer was made by Wilko.[36]

Following the departure of Wilko, Canute Haulage Group entered administration in 2018 and was liquidated in 2019.[37]

Financial performance[edit]

Turnover for the year ending February 2022 was in excess of £1.2 billion.[38][failed verification]

Financial statistics (in £ thousands)[38][failed verification]
Year ending Turnover Operating
February 2023 Under £1 billion (under 30,000) (under 30,000)
February 2022 1,241,242 (37,572) (31,903)
February 2021 1,283,251 5,063 4,481
February 2020 1,428,491 2,069 3,752
February 2019 1,508,690 (2,438) 13,926
February 2018 1,619,147 8,227 (52,878)
February 2017 1,517,763 17,994 16,046
February 2016 1,464,475 23,638 15,910


  1. ^ "Certificate of Incorporation on Change of Name". gov.uk. 1 April 2021. Retrieved 24 October 2023.
  2. ^ "Certificate of Incorporation". gov.uk. 13 February 1941. Retrieved 10 October 2023.
  3. ^ "Certificate of Incorporation on Change of Name". gov.uk. 4 June 2014. Retrieved 24 October 2023.
  4. ^ a b c Masud, Faarea (10 August 2023). "Wilko to stay open for now in race to save jobs". BBC News. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  5. ^ a b c Saker-Clark, Henry (14 September 2023). "The Range confirms deal to buy Wilko brand and website". Evening Standard. Retrieved 14 September 2023.
  6. ^ a b Hooker, Lucy; Masud, Faarea (8 October 2023). "Wilko: End of an era as shops shut for good". BBC News. Retrieved 8 October 2023.
  7. ^ a b Morgan, Aoife (12 October 2023). "Wilko relaunches website under new owner The Range". Retail Gazette. Retrieved 12 October 2023.
  8. ^ a b "Corporate - Our history". Wilko. Retrieved 15 October 2023.
  9. ^ "Rich List 2013: No.=16 – Tony Wilkinson (£480m)". Birmingham Post. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  10. ^ Gillespie, Stuart (23 August 2017). "Jobs on the line at Castle Douglas store". Daily Record.
  11. ^ "Wilko — Annual Review 2012" (PDF). Wilko Corporate. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  12. ^ Holland, Tiffany (22 April 2014). "Wilkinson rebrands store estate to 'Wilko' matching new strapline". Retail Week. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  13. ^ Lanyon, Daniel (16 March 2013). "Wilkinson rebrand to 'Wilko' gathers pace". The Grocer. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  14. ^ Ruddick, Graham (2 August 2014). "Wilkinson family split after 84 years in retail". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  15. ^ Ahmed, Murad (11 August 2017). "Wilko looks at cutting more than 4,000 jobs". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  16. ^ Neate, Rupert (11 August 2017). "Wilko warns nearly 4,000 staff could lose jobs". The Guardian.
  17. ^ "A bargain British brand is here in Dubai". Dubai Week. 4 March 2018. Archived from the original on 12 January 2020. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  18. ^ Gilbert, Iain (1 June 2010). "Warpaint London products to be launched in Wilko stores". Sharecast. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  19. ^ "The complete list of the 15 Wilko stores set to close in 2022". ITV News. 10 January 2022. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  20. ^ a b Butler, Sarah (4 January 2023). "Wilko secures £40m funding from Hilco as it faces cash squeeze". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  21. ^ Butler, Sarah (15 February 2023). "Wilko plans to cut 400 jobs as part of restructuring after fall in sales". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  22. ^ Butler, Sarah (3 August 2023). "Budget retailer Wilko set to call in administrators, risking 12,000 jobs". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  23. ^ Binns, Daniel (10 August 2023). "Around 12,500 jobs at risk as Wilko goes into administration". Sky News. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  24. ^ Downes, Hannah (10 August 2023). "Wilko goes into administration: what you need to know". Which?. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  25. ^ Jordan, Dearbail (14 August 2023). "Wilko: Bidders given Wednesday deadline for rescue offers". BBC News. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  26. ^ Butler, Sarah (28 November 2023). "Wilko's former chair tells MPs she was devastated by collapse of retailer". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 November 2023.
  27. ^ Goldfingle, Gemma (13 August 2023). "Wilko owners took £77m out of business in last decade". Retail Gazette. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  28. ^ Butterworth, Benjamin (5 September 2023). "B&M agrees to buy 51 Wilko stores after collapse of rival bargain chain". I. Retrieved 12 September 2023.
  29. ^ Graham, August (28 September 2023). "The full list of Wilko stores set to become Poundlands". Evening Standard. Retrieved 29 September 2023.
  30. ^ O'Boyle, Daniel (12 September 2023). "Poundland to save 71 Wilko shops in last-minute deal and rebrand them under its own name". Evening Standard. Retrieved 12 September 2023.
  31. ^ "Notice of Administrator's proposals". gov.uk. 29 September 2023. p. 16. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  32. ^ Saker-Clark, Henry (26 October 2023). "Wilko products to return to high street in The Range stores". Evening Standard. Retrieved 26 October 2023.
  33. ^ "wilko confirms first three locations and opening dates for their concept stores". Wilko. 3 November 2023. Retrieved 2 January 2024.
  34. ^ Hill, Eloise (20 February 2024). "Wilko reveals further store opening plans". Retail Gazette. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  35. ^ "Wincanton wins five-year contract with wilko". Post and Parcel. 20 March 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  36. ^ "Wilko strike: Workers suspend action after 'last-ditch' offer". BBC News. 10 October 2019. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  37. ^ "Canute Haulage Group Limited Filing History". gov.uk. Companies House. 31 August 2023. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  38. ^ a b "Wilko Limited overview – Find and update company information". gov.uk. Retrieved 10 May 2022.

External links[edit]