DOZENS of Somerset jobs are at risk after one of the UK’s major low-cost retailers announced its intention to call in the administrators.

Wilko runs more than 400 stores across the UK – including three in Somerset – and employs around 12,000 staff.

The household and garden firm has filed a notice of intention (NOI) to appoint administrators, just weeks after its owners were reported in the national press to be considering selling their controlling stake.

Somerset Council – which owned the Yeovil store as part of its commercial investment portfolio – said it would be monitoring the situation closely, but could not comment on what support it could provide to any people who might end up being laid off.

Wilko currently operates three stores in Somerset – one within the Angel Place shopping centre in Bridgwater, one on East Street in Taunton, and one between Middle Street and Old Station Road in Yeovil.

This is in addition to a further store in Weston-super-Mare and several in the wider Bristol area.

Wilko chief executive Mark Jackson said: “While we can confirm we’ve had a significant level of interest, including indicative offers that we believe would meet all our financial criteria to recapitalise the business, at present we don’t today have an offer that provides the necessary liquidity in the time we have available, given the mounting cash pressures we’re faced with.

“Unfortunately, with this in mind, today [August 3] we’re having to take the difficult decision to file a notice of intention.

“We’ll continue to progress discussions with interested parties with the aim of completing a transaction which preserves the business and will encourage those interested parties we’re in discussions with to move as fast as possible.

“We continue to believe that our robust turnaround plan, with significant re-stabilisation cost savings in progress, will deliver a profitable Wilko and maximise the significant opportunities that we know exist.”

Somerset County Gazette: Wilko operates a store at Angel Place Shopping Centre in Bridgwater.Wilko operates a store at Angel Place Shopping Centre in Bridgwater. (Image: Newsquest)

South Somerset District Council acquired the Yeovil branch in November 2017 as part of its commercial investments strategy – under which it purchased a range of properties across the UK, using the rental income to front front-line services.

This portfolio – which also includes Yeovil’s Marks & Spencer store and two battery energy storage sites – was automatically transferred to Somerset Council when the new unitary authority replaced all existing councils on April 1.

The council has declined to provide details of how much rental income it stands to lose if the Yeovil branch of Wilko closes and a new tenant cannot be quickly found.

It has also declined to comment on whether the ongoing disruption caused by the implementation of the Yeovil Refresh public realm improvements may have contributed to any reduction in footfall within the Yeovil store.

A spokesman said: “As is widely reported, this is an extremely difficult time for high street retailers and we were saddened to hear the news about Wilko potentially going into administration.

“However, we are not in a position to speculate what is going to happen with the business next.

“Although this is a national issue, we fully recognise that the current uncertainty regarding Wilko affects employees in Bridgwater, Taunton and Yeovil, and we will be closely monitoring the situation.”