Wilko’s shake-up leaves 4,000 at risk

The Wilkinson's store in Friargate Preston
The Wilkinson's store in Friargate Preston

Around 4,000 supervisors at discount store Wilkinsons are facing redundancy after the chain launched a cost cutting drive.

The retailer, which has shops in Friargate Preston, the Deepdale retail park and in Southport said it wanted to strip out a layer of supervision to ensure “all retail operations are fit for the future”.

It confirmed it has entered redundancy consultation with nearly 3,900 staff, weeks after bemoaning a rise in costs as a result of the pound’s Brexit-induced collapse.

The discount chain said, following a review of its operating functions, changes were needed to “ensure it is best placed to continue to thrive within an ever-changing retail landscape”.

Wilko said it is consulting with 3,900 of its store supervisory team about a new management structure, alongside trade union the GMB.

But it added that 1,000 new senior supervisor roles will be created as part of the shake-up, as well as a “significant amount” of customer service roles.

The move comes after Wilko posted an 80 per cent plunge in pre-tax profits to £5.1m in the year to January 28, with the firm pointing to “uncertain economic and geopolitical events”, the collapse in sterling and the national living wage.

Inflation, which has soared since the Brexit vote sent the British currency tumbling, hit its highest level for nearly four years in May at 2.9 per cent, before easing back to 2.6 per cent.

The net result has been an increase in import costs for retailers.

Anthony Houghton, Wilko’s retail director, said: “Despite the challenging retail landscape Wilko has seen both positive customer numbers and like-for-like sales growth this year.

“This is not translating into positive results despite all the hard work to reduce costs, grow own-brand and digital sales.”