TWO Wilko stores in north Essex are set to shut permanently as part of a mass exodus of 400 branches nationwide.

Administrators PwC confirmed today it will commence the closure of all Wilko stores, the two distribution centres and the cessation of the majority of activities of the support centre.

The group added, “it is anticipated all stores will be closed by early October”.

When news first surfaced Wilko had gone into administration, shoppers emptied the shelves at Colchester’s St John’s Walk store.

Gazette: Sale – discounts were up for grabs after last month's administration announcementSale – discounts were up for grabs after last month's administration announcement (Image: Newsquest)

The Gazette was then led to believe the Colchester Wilko would remain open, with the retailer announcing last week only 24 stores would close as soon as tomorrow, with a further 28 branches closing this Thursday, including one in Basildon.

This morning, however, it was revealed HMV owner Doug Putman's rescue bid had collapsed due to rising costs leaving more than 12,000 jobs and 400 stores at risk.

Mr Putman's bid would have seen him keep 300 Wilko stores. 

As a result, stores in Colchester and Clacton branches are set to be part of the mass exodus which will see Wilko vanish for good, cutting more than 12,500 jobs across the UK. 

PwC joint administrator Zelf Hussain said: "Despite the significant and intensive efforts of both ourselves and Putman Investments - the remaining party interested in buying a significant part of the business - a transaction could not be progressed.

“We continue to work with potential buyers for different parts of the business and are confident of completing transactions in the coming days.”

Sam McLean, Colchester councillor for New Town and Christ Church was devastated at the news.

Gazette: Gutted - Colchester councillor Sam McLeanGutted - Colchester councillor Sam McLean (Image: Public)

Mr McLean, who is also the Labour Council Group’s shadow for local economy, said: “The closure of Wilko is a disaster.

“Pensions are now at risk, workers face financial uncertainty, and many parents will be telling their children not to expect much of a Christmas this year or cancelling hard-earned holidays.

“Many will struggle to pay off credit bills and debts and many will struggle to find work as their colleagues will likely be competing for the same or similar jobs locally in retail.

“There are, of course, other reasons which have contributed to this mess, such as unfair rents and business rates and of course, Brexit, which has affected Colchester’s businesses in a unanimously negative way.

“I don’t think it’s good enough to sit back and accept retail is on the decline in towns and cities across the nation. I think there is something the government can do.”

Wilko closures will begin tomorrow, September 12, with 24 stores set to shut their doors for good.

The Clacton branch will close on Thursday, September 21. Meanwhile, the closing date of the Colchester store will be confirmed in due course.