Plans for redundancies and store closures at Wilko have been put on hold as administrators consider two potential last-ditch rescue bids that emerged over the bank holiday weekend.
Administrators from PricewaterhouseCoopers, who were called in earlier this month as Wilko ran short of cash, had warned that redundancies would start within weeks as there had been no viable bids for the bulk of the company. The group employs nearly 12,500 people.
Doug Putman, the owner of HMV in the UK and Toys R Us in Canada, is understood to have increased his bid on Friday’s deadline, offering to take on up to 350 of Wilko’s 400 stores and ensure the main creditors – led by the restructuring specialist Hilco – were paid. A previous bid from Putman would have involved saving 200 stores.
Another potential offer has emerged from M2 Capital, a restructuring specialist that claims to own the Como hotels group and is in the process of buying the Michigan-based car parts maker Superior Industries. M2 is understood to have put forward a bid that would keep the entire Wilko chain trading.
However, a source close to the process questioned the credibility of the M2 bid, which was put forward very late on the final day for offers, and whether the finance group had the required funds available.
Andy Prendergast, the national secretary of the GMB union, which represents thousands of Wilko staff, said: “There appears to be a glimmer of hope but there is still a long way to go.
“We don’t want to get carried away as