Advertisement

The collapse of Wilko casts a pall over the High Street

It is a bleak start to the week for Britain’s High Streets (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
It is a bleak start to the week for Britain’s High Streets (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

It is a bleak start to the week for Britain’s High Streets.

The collapse of a rescue bid for about half of the Wilko estate from HMV’s Doug Putman appears to have sadly sealed the fate of thousands of jobs.

It also means that the much-loved Wilko brand looks certain to disappear — the 52 sites that do have a future are likely to be rebranded as B&M.

Retailers will be looking for help from the Chancellor in November with a freezing of business rates top of the wish list for the Autumn Statement.

This prolonged period of freakishly hot September weather will not have helped either.

The fashion chains in particular will be casting an anxious glance at the forecasts as they unpack the deliveries of jumpers and coats that make up their autumn/ winter ranges.

This week is expected to be cooler but few people will be reaching for heavy knitwear anytime soon.

The disappearance of hundreds of Wilko stores will leave more ugly gaps on High Streets and shopping centres at a time when many units once occupied by the likes of past failures such as Paperchase are still empty.

High Streets are a key litmus paper indicator of the health of the general economy and have a disproportionate impact on how people feel about their local community. A sad and half-empty High Street has a demoralising impact far beyond the number of jobs lost.

If Wilko’s name is finally erased from the High Street it will be missed by more than just its staff and loyal customers.