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Wilko stores could be left empty as estate will be tough to re-let, new data suggests

Homeware chain Wilko has entered administration  (PA Wire)
Homeware chain Wilko has entered administration (PA Wire)

A number of landlords will struggle to quickly re-let the huge Wilko estate following the chain’s collapse, data suggests, as it emerged scores of shops are still sitting empty from two other high-profile retail casualties.

Homeware chain Wilko fell into administration two weeks ago in a move that puts 12,500 jobs at risk. The GMB Union today said that most of its shops are expected to close within weeks.

The 93-year-old business, which has grappled with inflationary pressures and felt the impact of the cost of living crisis on customer spend, was unable to secure a rescue deal. PwC are currently working on the administration including any search for buyers of the brand name or any of its around 400 shops.

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While some stores in high footfall areas could be popular, it is unlikely all will be saved. The biggest and most sad blow in the event of closures is to employees. It is also a serious hit to the High Street.

Listed landlords potentially left with vacant sites include British Land (around 10), Landsec (3), NewRiver (5), Capital & Regional (5). While that is only a very small part of the huge tenant lists these firms have, it could still be a headache as they continue to try and bounce back from the pandemic.

Latest figures from The Local Data Company show that half of Topshop parent Arcadia’s shops and 41% of Debenhams branches are still vacant with no plans yet for future use. They both shut their final sites in 2021.

Ronald Nyakairu, head of insights and analytics at The Local Data Company said that following a number of high profile administrations some landlords have looked further afield from traditional retail, “ with units being converted into food halls and competitive socialising venues”.

Looking at Wilko’s properties, Simon Morris, managing partner at retail real estate consultancy GCW said: “Demand from alternative occupiers will be high where there is limited out of town offer and these provide the opportunity for large space users to secure stores. This will especially be the case for those locations in London.”

But he added: “Regional locations are likely to be most impacted especially those locations where there is already significant void.”

Justin Taylor, co-founder of property agent P-Three said: “The locations are generally less prime than Debenhams and Topshop once had, and much of that space remains available. So many landlords will be rightly very concerned at the prospect of having these shops vacant as reletting or repurposing will take time. On the positive side, there will be demand in some locations, particularly from other value operators and potentially as well from the leisure sector.”