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Wilkinson family bank 63m in sale of their share

Wilko Store

One side of the family behind the Wilkinson retail empire banked £63m by selling out of the chain. 

The Wilkinson family split last year after 85 years of running the company, with Karin Swann, the joint chairman and granddaughter of the founder, leaving the board. 

New documents reveal that Mrs Swann’s side of the family collected £63m from selling their holding in the company to the rest of the family, which is led by Lisa Wilkinson, now the sole chairman. 

Wilkinson, now known as Wilko, is one the biggest private companies in Britain, with almost 400 shops. 

The latest accounts show that sales fell by 1.2pc, to £1.4bn, in the year to Jan 31, sending pre-tax profits down from £27.6m to £5.5m. Ms Wilkinson said she was “very disappointed” by the performance, which came despite the launch of a new advertising campaign. 

The departure of half the family represented a significant moment for Wilkinson, which was founded in 1930 when James Kemsey Wilkinson and his fiancée opened a store in Leicester. 

Accounts at Companies House show the sale of the stake was conducted through a demerger of a group company called Castlegate PropCo Limited into the ownership of Ms Swann’s side of the family. 

This entity was demerged with £39.5m in cash and 12 freehold properties valued at £23.5m. The properties are occupied by Wilko store. 

Mrs Swann and Lisa Wilkinson were the third generation of the family to run Wilkinsons. The company’s founder, known as JK, had two children, Tony and Barbara Wilkinson. Mrs Swann is Barbara’s daughter and Lisa Wilkinson is Tony’s daughter. 

However, Barbara and her side of the family have now ceased being shareholders. 

The company insists the split was amicable, with Mrs Swann “pursuing other business interests”. Her husband, Peter, is chairman of Scunthorpe United Football Club. 

Wilko has been hit by the rise of discount rivals such as B&M and Poundland, and has admitted it is losing market share. 

The company has postponed further television advertising until late this year. It has also cut jobs in a response to falling sales.

Source: Graham Ruddick - The Telegraph.

Read the full news article here.

19 July 2015

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