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Wilko returns to high street months after chain’s dramatic collapse

Wilko relaunched in Exeter after the brand was sold following administration (Emily Whitfield-Wicks/Wilko/PA)
Wilko relaunched in Exeter after the brand was sold following administration (Emily Whitfield-Wicks/Wilko/PA)

Wilko has returned to the high street with two new shops just months after the collapse of the historic retail chain.

On Friday, the brand opened stores in Plymouth and Exeter as it relaunched following its dramatic failure.

Earlier this year, the retailer shut its 400 UK shops after tumbling into administration in the face of hefty debts and weak consumer spending.

Almost all of Wilko’s 12,500 workers were made redundant as a result.

Paint in Wilko Plymouth
CDS Superstores bought the Wilko brand for £5 million (Wilko/PA)

Administrators for the business sold off a raft of the company’s assets, including up to 71 stores to become Poundland shops, and up to 51 stores to reopen under rival discounter B&M.

The process also saw the parent firm of The Range, CDS Superstores, buy the Wilko brand for £5 million.

It had already relaunched the Wilko.com online platform and started selling products under the Wilko brand within The Range shops.

The new owners said the relaunched stores will stock the retail brand’s traditional homeware and garden products, with a 20% wider range of items.

Another store is set to open in Luton next week as CDS brings the brand back to high streets across the UK.

Alex Simpkin, chief executive officer of CDS, said: “The customer reaction to the new stores opening today has been fantastic and proves we’re doing the right thing in returning this much-loved retailer to UK high streets.”

The company said about three-quarter of previous Wilko staff were hired for the new Plymouth store, while about a third at the Exeter location were former Wilko workers.

CDS plans to open more Wilko stores next year and said it is planning to expand the brand to Northern Ireland for the first time.