THE Basingstoke branch of Wilko could close early next month after administrators failed to find a buyer for the retailer, putting 12,500 jobs at risk.

Wilko has begun shutting its stores across the country today (Tuesday, September 12), as the high street retailer prepares to close down, with 24 branches closing today and a further 28 on Thursday.

Next week, another 124 more shops will close, including one in Andover, with the final 222 stores, including the Basingstoke branch in The Malls, expected to shut by early October, according to the GMB Union, which represents more than 3,000 Wilko employees. 

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Administrators Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) told the Gazette that it cannot comment on the closure of the Basingstoke branch but added: “We’ll be updating in due course.”

The administrator announced on Monday that it had failed to find a buyer for the business to take on Wilko shops and retain staff, but said it is still trying to sell the stores themselves, giving possible hope for the future of the Basingstoke branch.

Up to 71 Wilko stores could be turned into Poundland shops as administrators for Wilko reached a deal with Pepco.

However, the Basingstoke branch is not on the list of those included in the deal. 

A further 51 stores will be bought by B&M in a £13m deal, and will be rebranded. 

A spokesperson for PwC said: "Stores included in the B&M deal are subject to a confidentiality agreement so we're unable to provide any further information."

In an open letter from Mark Jackson, Wilko’s chief executive officer, he said: “We left no stone unturned when it came to preserving this incredible business but must concede that with regret, we’ve no choice but to take the difficult decision to enter into administration.

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“We’ve a history steeped in serving customers and communities going back to 1930. Our founder JK Wilkinson started with a single hardware shop in Leicester and for over 90 years busy, hard-working families have come to us to get their household and garden jobs done quickly, simply and at the best value prices possible.

“We thrived and successfully grew from one to 400 stores. We did this by listening to our customers – working out what they needed and then making sure we gave it to them.”

He added: “We’ve all fought hard to keep this incredible business intact but must concede that time has run out, and now we must do what’s best to preserve as many jobs as possible, for as long as is possible, by working with our appointed administrators.”