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    Wilko closes ‘majority stores’; B&M, Poundland to snap up a few

    (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

    B&M and Poundland are believed to be in negotiations to buy some parts of Wilko as its administrator confirmed recently that a majority of Wilko stores are expected to shut with the loss of thousands of jobs, leaving big gaps on high streets.

    According to recent reports, PwC was in advanced talks to carve up parts of the 400-strong chain, with Poundland’s owner, Pepco Group, in discussions to acquire around 100 stores.

    B&M is also believed to be in negotiations to take on between 40 and 50 shops, while other value retailers, including TOFS, have lodged offers to acquire smaller parcels comprising about ten sites, stated a report by Sky News.

    An announcement is expected to be made by PwC later today outlining the sale agreements with at least some of the bidders. PwC had been seeking a buyer for the discount chain’s stores, brand and remaining assets since it collapsed on Aug 10 in the hopes that hundreds of stores and thousands of jobs could be saved.

    Administrators from PricewaterhouseCoopers, who were appointed to Wilko this month as it ran short of cash, said on Wednesday evening that it was “likely that there will be redundancies and store closures in the future” as they had not found a buyer for the whole group.

    However, they said stores would remain open for now, with no immediate job cuts or store closures as “discussions continue with those interested in buying parts of the business.”

    “We know this will further add to the uncertainty felt by workers. We will be supporting staff through this deeply unsettling time, working closely with the government, JobCentre plus, unions and large employers to maximise possibilities for a rapid return to work for employees in the event of redundancies,” Jane Steer, Zelf Hussain and Edward Williams, the joint administrators, told The Guardian.

    This followed an earlier statement by the GMB, the union representing workers at Wilko, that said the majority of stores would close within weeks after it met with PwC and was told the purchase of the discount retailer had fallen through.

    “In the immediate term, all stores remain open, continue to trade and staff continue to be paid,” PwC said. “We know this will further add to the uncertainty felt by workers.”

    In a statement issued this morning, Aldi called on staff affected by Wilko’s collapse to “get in touch”, highlighting that it had more than 6,000 jobs currently available across its UK stores. The discounter, which recently announced that it was creating 800 jobs in new stores over the coming months, said that it is also recruiting for a large volume of other store roles across the country to support its continued expansion.

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