Wilko have told customers “not to worry” as empty shelves plague their West Midlands stores – a result of a new system being introduced to one of their distribution centres.
One of the biggest UK family-ran businesses has seen a mass shortage in stock since Christmas, most noticeably in Birmingham stores Selly Oak, Kings Heath, and Northfield. In 2021, they recorded a 10.5% decrease in annual revenue from the previous year, and a further recent loss.
The high street retailer recently announced it was closing some of its branches. Of the 15 affected stores, three are located in the West Midlands – Redditch, The Fort and Sutton Coldfield.
General workers trade union, GMB’s, national officer, Roger Jenkins said in an announcement: “These closures are devastating for Wilko workers and the communities who use them.”
Wilko and their distribution partners Wincanton have changed the way their employees prepare stock for store deliveries in their depot.
However, as a result, it has caused a delay in delivering products to some of its West Midlands’ stores.
Diane McNair, Wilko Selly Oak supervisor, said: “Customers do not need to worry, this isn’t just a Wilko problem, this is a high street problem.
“We were told our stocking issue would have a four to six week waiting period before it would be fully resolved.
“Our head office has come up with a solution where we will get our stock from our other distribution centre in Worksop, so hopefully our stock will then be replenished much faster.
“I think a lot of the team are understanding of the situation. I think it’s a bit frustrating because of the lack of jobs that we can give out, but there is a silver lining in that we have been able to perfect and get to a lot of jobs that we might not have always got to.”
One customer said: “I’m sure the workers in the shop are doing everything they can, and I hope none of them are receiving the brunt of customer frustration as the delivery system is obviously out of their control.
“Seeing empty shelves is frustrating, as I often only go to Wilko with a specific item in mind. If I’m consistently disappointed, it can put me off shopping there, and others I’m sure feel the same.
“I do wonder if those higher up in the business could be doing more to organise supply?”
The majority of Wilko stores in the West Midlands are stocked from their distribution centre in Caldicot, Wales.
Selly Oak and Northfield, who receive deliveries five days a week, have been faced with empty shelves.
McNair added: “We understand a lot of customers have been asking if we are closing down, some have been a bit irate but a lot of that is down to how some team members had been explaining the issues that we have been having. Myself personally, the reaction customers have given me has been fine once I have explained what’s going on. Most are worried that we are closing, but they say they enjoy coming to our store and it’s an easy store for them to get to.”