Wilko, one of Britain’s biggest discount retailers, is racing to secure a cash injection as it prepares to launch a financial restructuring aimed at securing its future.
Sky News has learnt that Wilko, which is owned by its founding family and employs about 12,000 people, is working with advisers to raise tens of millions of pounds of new equity in the coming weeks.
The hunt for additional funding comes as the chain finalises a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) – a mechanism that would trigger steep rent cuts at hundreds of stores.
City sources said on Friday that Wilko had this week approached a number of prospective financial investors for funds to support its CVA proposal.
The company and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which is overseeing the proposed restructuring, are in talks with a range of turnaround investors which are used to providing capital in situations such as this.
It is expected that any new equity funding would result in the dilution of the Wilkinson family’s ownership of the company.
One insider said that a minority stake sale was a likely outcome, although all options were on the table.
Wilko has been working on a CVA for some time, and is not thought to be planning to close any of its roughly 400 stores across Britain as part of the proposal.
However, one landlord warned that if it was unable to secure new funding, the company was likely to face falling into administration.
“The business needs a CVA to secure its future,” the landlord said.
Wilko previously secured a £40m loan from Hilco UK, the specialist retail investor and lender which owns Homebase.
However, it is understood that new funding is required in the form of equity rather than debt.
Sky News revealed last month that it had drafted in property advisers from CBRE ahead of crunch talks with landlords about slashing rents across its store estate.
Mark Jackson, Wilko’s chief executive, said: “As directors, we continue to work through all the options available to the business, and in addition to the work we’re doing to streamline costs and transform the way we operate, we’re also now actively exploring opportunities to recapitalise the business and provide a stable platform to activate the next phase of the recovery, with a plan to maximise the significant opportunities that exist to re-establish a profitable Wilko.”
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