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HMV owner seeks £50m backing for Wilko rescue bid

The owner of HMV has approached a number of debt providers to back a last-gasp rescue bid for Wilko, the ailing high street retailer.

Sky News understands that Doug Putman has sounded out firms including Gordon Brothers and Hilco - from which he bought HMV in 2018 - about helping to finance an offer for hundreds of Wilko's stores.

City sources said this weekend that a rescue of Wilko by Mr Putman looked "unlikely" but said it remained under discussion with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the chain's administrators.

One retail executive said that a decision was likely at the start of next week about whether the Canadian's offer was viable.

If not, Wilko will be broken up, with 150 stores sold to Poundland and London-listed B&M European Value Retail.

Most of the remaining business - which in total comprises 400 stores and 12,500 employees - will be liquidated, with many thousands of redundancies.

Sources told Sky News on Saturday that The Range, another value retailer, was in pole position to acquire Wilko's brand and online operations.

It was unclear whether Mr Putman had secured the funding he needed to complete a purchase of parts of Wilko.

In a statement pre-empting an announcement from PwC this week, the GMB Union said: "In a meeting with administrators today GMB Union was informed there is no longer any prospect that the majority of the business will be saved.

"This means redundancies for staff in store and at call centres will begin during the coming week.

"Some stores may be bought, either individually or as part of larger packages, but significant job losses are now expected."

Inflation and supply chain issues caused collapse

The family-owned Wilko, which was established by the Wilkinson family in 1930, had been working with PwC on a search for new investment for several months.

Shortly before it crashed into administration, Sky News revealed that Gordon Brothers, Alteri Investors and Opcapita were examining last-ditch proposals to invest in the business.

Like many high street retailers, it has been hit by inflationary pressures and supply chain challenges.

In recent months, it had been seeking to finalise a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) - a mechanism that would have triggered steep rent cuts at hundreds of stores but avoided any closures.

Mr Putman could not be reached for comment on Saturday.