Wilco turns to Bensons pair to restore its fortunes

Homewares retailer Wilco has reunited two former Bensons for Beds executives as it looks to turn its fortunes around after securing new finance.

Chris Howell has become chairman, succeeding Lisa Wilkinson, major shareholder and granddaughter of the company’s founder. She will remain a director.

Howell was Bensons chairman from July 2020 to June 2021, working alongside Mike Jackson who was Bensons ceo from June 2020 until he became Wilko chief executive last month.

The chain has agreed a two-year £40m credit facility with Homebase and Cath Kidston owner Hilco.

Wilko says it recognised it had been underperforming and was making strategic changes including accelerating its omni-channel offer and shaking up the leadership team. It says the new financing would allow it to accelerate its turnaround plans, which also involve negotiations with landlords to secure cheaper rents. Howell’s leadership would ensure smooth transformational change in the short-term and into the future it adds.

‘Our history is steeped in serving customers and communities going back to 1930,’ says Wilkinson. ‘Right now we’re making necessary changes to restore confidence and safeguard the future of the business. That includes making sure we have the right leadership in place: one aligned team with the right expertise to deliver the retail experience our customers are demanding of us today.’

The chain had warned that it could run out of money unless performance improved, despite the £48m sale and leaseback of its distribution centre to DHL.

Wilko22AW

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