Middleton Wilko NOT one of 52 to close next week
Date published: 06 September 2023
Photo: Rochdale Online
Middleton Shopping Centre, where Wilko is located
The Middleton Wilko store is not one of the 52 set to close next week, after a deal was made with B&M Bargains to buy some of the company's 400 stores.
The joint administrators have entered into an agreement to provide B&M with the option to acquire up to 51 properties, after the administration trading period concludes at those sites.
As a result, 52 stores and two distribution centres have been earmarked for closure on 12 and 14 September, resulting in the redundancies of over 1,300 staff members.
However, administrators revealed on Wednesday (6 September) that the Wilko store in Middleton Shopping Centre is not one of those that will close, and will remain open for now.
It is not known if the Middleton store has been purchased by B&M, and it is not yet known what will happen with Wilko's remaining 300 stores, which entered administration last month.
Last week, the 12 Labour councillors for the town wrote to Steve Rumbelow, the chief executive of Rochdale Borough Council, requesting both the council and Rochdale Development Agency try to keep the local store open as a priority should some stores remain open.
They said: “Wilko is a prominent retailer in Middleton town centre and the business takes up two floors of Middleton Shopping Centre.
“If Wilko were to close in Middleton, it will leave a huge void in the town centre and would also cause a number of job losses. We are very worried for the staff and also the town centre if the worst-case scenario plays out and the Wilko closes all stores.
“Following the unfolding news coverage about Wilko it increasingly seems that the most likely ‘best case’ scenario is that some stores will be closed, and others will be kept open.
“This being the case we ask that the council and the Rochdale Development Agency engage with Wilko administrators/any new buyers and Middleton Shopping Centre to try and keep the Wilko in Middleton open as a priority, in the event that they keep some stores open and close others.
“If Wilko closes down, it will be a huge loss for Middleton.”
The councillors added that they were “concerned” that Middleton hadn’t “fully recovered since Covid” with a number of empty shop units in both the shopping centre and Middleton Gardens.
They added: “We approached Primark and other big-name retailers a number of years ago hoping they would open a store in Middleton. At the time, they said there wasn’t enough footfall in Middleton for them to open a store.
“We believe footfall in Middleton has increased, so we would like the council and RDA to approach Primark and other big-name retailers and ask them to re-look at the viability of opening stores in Middleton.”
Responding on 5 September, before the locations of the stores set to close were announced, Mr Rumbelow said: “We know that it will have an impact on Middleton town centre and our residents who are employed there. We are aware of emerging news today that some of their stores may be bought by B&M and we’re trying to contact the administrators so we can understand if this includes the Middleton store.
“If this branch can’t be saved, we will continue to support the owners of the shopping centre and assist wherever we can to help them fill the space, as well as ensuring that our work and skills team support any staff facing redundancy.
“Middleton is a major town centre in our borough and as such has been a focus of significant investment in recent years, totalling around £50m.
“This area continues to a huge focus for us and, as such, we recently unveiled the Middleton town centre masterplan, which will further transform this important part of the borough, with plans for new homes and commercial space to drive more footfall across the town centre.
“Improving historic shop fronts and public realm across the town centre, as well as the development of the area between Eastway and Wood Street, are also on the agenda as we continue to prioritise the further development of this area.
“We are in contact with the owners of the Middleton shopping centre, who have welcomed our masterplan proposals and recognise that they will increase footfall and investment, which will benefit the centre and help it to attract new retail and leisure operators going forward.”
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