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Union criticises B&M as Wilko jobs at risk despite deal for stores

Around 1,000 Wilko jobs are at risk at shops bought by the rival retailer in a deal earlier this week, the PA news agency understands.

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A Wilko store in Hammersmith

A union has slammed B&M over its move to buy 51 Wilko stores but leave the future of workers in the balance.

Around 1,000 jobs are at risk at shops bought by B&M in a deal earlier this week, the PA news agency understands.

On Tuesday, PwC, which was hired to oversee the insolvency last month, said it agreed to sell up to 51 Wilko shops to the rival discount retailer for up £13 million.

Here are the Wilko stores in the Midlands that will close, with the numbers of staff set for redundancy and the last day of store trading:

Walsall - 30 employees - September 14

Stafford - 20 employees - September 12

Brownhills - 15 employees - September 12

Uttoxeter - nine employees - September 14

As well as this, there are 220 redundancies at the Worksop distribution centre.

But the deal only included Wilko’s properties and will not transfer workers currently based at these sites.

The GMB union, which represents more than 3,000 Wilko staff, called on B&M to explain why it has opted against saving the jobs of workers at those shops.

Andy Prendergast, GMB national officer, said: “The fact the deal with B&M is for physical stores only is frankly baffling.

“The company really needs to be explain why they are unwilling to transfer in the able, experienced retail staff they will obviously need.

“It looks like a cynical attempt to ditch liabilities and reinforces the view people are treated as the least important part of in this process.

“Frankly, the workforce deserve better.”

The shops are then expected to reopen under the B&M branding, although some could open under the Heron frozen foods brand also owned by B&M European Value Retail.

B&M and PwC declined to comment.

B&M financials
B&M said on Tuesday it will buy up to 51 Wilko shops (B&M/PA)

The locations of 51 shops bought by B&M have not been announced.

On Tuesday, administrators also said 52 other Wilko stores will close next week after they were unable to secure a deal to save the whole business.

It said the closures will lead to 1,016 redundancies.

The company has also announced hundreds of further job losses affecting warehouse and service centre staff.

On Wednesday, PwC revealed the locations of the 52 shops set to close and said further store closures “may regrettably be necessary” depending on talks with other suitors.

It is understood that HMV owner Doug Putman is still in discussions with PwC over a possible deal to save a significant number of shops.

Wilko tumbled into administration last month due to waning consumer spending and significant debts to suppliers, throwing the future of its 400 stores and 12,500 workers into doubt.

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