Wilko's collapse cost unsecured creditors £625m

52
2
Wilko's collapse cost unsecured creditors £625m

The collapse cost Wilko £625m to unsecured creditors, including £548m to unsecured creditors who will receive less than 8% of what they are owed.

The budget homeware retailer's pension fund is left with more than £50m in deficit and is unlikely to receive more than £4 million back from the company's breakup, which took place in August.

The chain failed to owe more than £400 million, according to PwC's report, which said the last of its near-400 stores will close on October 8 with almost 12,500 jobs lost.

Unsecured creditors, who include suppliers, employees and the pension fund, will receive between 4% and 8% of what they are owed by the group's main Wilko Ltd entity, whose debts total more than £460 million and less than 1% of that owed by its sister group.

The tax authorities are owed more than £26 million by suppliers, including GlaxoSmithKline, Procter & Gamble and the logistics firm GXO.

The secured creditors, led by Hilco, which was owed nearly 40 million, will be repaid in full. HMRC is expected to be repaid almost in full, as it is described as a preferential creditor.

Wilko's defined benefit scheme, which employs 2,000 members, has been significantly reduced since 2019, as the company injected more than 4m a year to support it and£8m last year. However, when a company fails, the balance of the deficit rises on the basis of the costs of handing it over to an insurance fund because there will no longer be profits from a functioning company to provide support.

The fund had a deficit of just over £70m in the past year, but had security over £20m of Wilko's property, reducing the money needed to plug the gap to £50m.

The scheme has been assessed for entry to the industry-funded pensions lifeboat scheme, under which those with a minimum of 60 and already collecting their cash will receive their full pay, while other savers' funds will be cut by 10%.

However, the Pensions Regulator is examining the company's finances in the aftermath of its collapse. The agency has the authority to pursue owners to plug pension shortfalls if their actions are deemed to have put savers' benefits at risk.

The assets of Wilko have paid themselves $9m in dividends since 2019, as their underlying profits halved from£33m to£16m and sales fell by more than 15% to £1.31bn.

The Wilkinson family has been asked for comment.