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Wilko takeover talks collapse, with stores at risk of closure and thousands of jobs on the line

A private equity firm’s bid to take over Wilko has reportedly collapsed, putting thousands of jobs at risk and administrators try to hold the troubled retailer together.

Investment company M2 Capital were thought to be in the frame to buy the discount homeware chain and its 400 high street stores, but talks with administrators at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have fallen through, Sky News reported.

Some 1,300 jobs are immediately at risk, though administrators hope to save many more in order to keep stores running.

Wilko fell into administration earlier this month, putting the future of its 12,500 staff across the UK into doubt.

Administrators from PwC had been sounding out offers from interested buyers in an effort to save jobs and stores. A bid worth £90m was lodged last weekend by restructuring specialist M2 Capital.

A PwC spokesperson said an announcement about Wilko’s future would be made later today.

Earlier this week, the GMB union said that administrators had suspended any potential redundancies as administrators consider a fresh batch of rescue bids.

A last-gasp attempt from Doug Putman, the Canadian businessman who was behind the rescue and turnaround of HMV, was not successful. Australian discount retailer Kmart hah also held talks over a potential rescue deal.

PwC is still open to bids for other parts of the business, some of which are already under consideration.

Poundland-owner Pepco Group and B&M European Value Retail are among the firms aiming to acquire part of Wilko’s store estate.

Wilko was founded as Wilkinson Cash Stores by James Kemsey Wilkinson in 1930 in Leicester. It remains under the private ownership of the family.

Mr Wilkinson’s son, Tony Wilkinson, joined the company in 1960 and took over as chairman in 1972, before he was succeeded by his daughter, Lisa Wilkinson, and his niece, Karin Swann. Ms Swann sold her family’s 50 per cent holding in the company to Ms Wilkinson in 2014. Ms Wilkinson remains the company’s director.

The company changed its name to Wilkinson Hardware Stores in 1941, before rebranding as Wilko in 2014.

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