Friday, March 28, 2014

News: Wilko and out?

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Wilkinsons, the value general merchandise retailer, is planning to take a 20,000 sq ft unit at Parkgate Shopping in Rotherham, a move which would create new jobs but could lead to an uncertain future for its town centre store.

The Worksop-based High Street chain looks set to take the large unit that was vacated by electrical retailer, Comet, with a planning application recently submitted for new signage at the empty unit.

Comet appointed administrators in November 2012 and as Deloitte failed to find a buyer, the Rotherham store at Parkgate Shopping closed in December that year. It was amongst the last of the 236 stores to do so.

Wilkinsons has only recently had plans approved for the replacement of signs at Corporation Street as part of a national rebranding to "Wilko" but Tesco is set to move across from that side of town to a new larger store by the end of this year.

Some retailers like Boots, New Look, Argos, Poundworld and WH Smith operate from both locations, whilst others like Marks & Spencer and Dorothy Perkins have closed their Rotherham town centre stores since opening at Parkgate.

Wilkinsons press office is yet to respond to a request from Rothbiz regarding its plans for the town centre store.

The council has confirmed Forge Island as the preferred site for a town centre cinema and theatre development. The council has an option to buy the site for £1.5m when Tesco vacate and move across town to the site of former council buildings on Drummond Street. In preparation for redevelopment, the council acquired a number of properties on Corporation Street including the Riverside Precinct, Chantry Buildings and the former Lloyd's bank.

Since JK Wilkinson opened his first general store in Leicester in 1930, "the home of family value" has successfully grown to 374 stores but an expansion plan target of over 500 stores by 2012 was scaled back.

Serving an average of 4.5 million customers per week, Wilko sells a wide variety of products focusing on homewares, cleaning, DIY, health and beauty, pets and stationary.

With a mission to "deliver extraordinary everyday shopping in the heart of the community," Wilkinsons stores are more commonly found on the High Street in town centres and in shopping malls.

In the 53 weeks to February 2 2013, the retailer recorded sales of £1.53bn and pre-tax profits were £27.5m, a 21% increase on the previous year.

Owned by Hercules Unit Trust, which is advised by British Land and managed by Schroders, Parkgate Shopping is one of the largest retail parks in the UK, home to over 40 shops and attracting around seven million visitors a year. It is valued at over £100m to the trust via a subsidiary, the Rotherham Unit Trust.

Recent openings include fashion retailers USC and Blue Inc, alongside a Nike Factory Store. Supported by agents, Smith Young and Cushman & Wakefield, only one unit on the park remains empty.

Across the borough at Cortonwood Retail Park, an occupier may have been found for the unit vacated by Dreams when the bed retailer was bought out of administration in 2013. A planning application has been submitted for changes to the layout of the unit as the unnamed "potential occupier of unit 2 requires full mezzanine cover."

Wilkinsons website
Parkgate Shopping website

Images: Wilkinsons / Facebook

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