MP writes to Wilko CEO and raises closures with Jacob Rees-Mogg in Westminster

Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers has raised the shock Wilko store closures in Westminster, writing to the company chief executive to air his concerns.

His constituency branch is one of 15 listed for closure in 2022, and he flagged it up as he aired his concerns about the high street.

The houseware and garden retailer announced it was pulling the shutters down on the outlets on Monday – with legacy locations and failed negotiations with landlords cited.

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The latter has been disputed in North East Lincolnshire, where St Peter’s Avenue property owner Stonefield Estates claimed there had been no communication since August 2020.

Mr Vickers said: “If the possible closure goes ahead it will be a significant loss to the avenue. Though there are many really good shops there can’t be any doubting that Wilko’s is a draw.

“The decision will ultimately be a commercial one for the company, and I have spoken to the landlord’s agent and written to Wilko’s chief executive.

“Although it’s not a matter for government I did raise the closure in the House of Commons in order to highlight the continuing threats to our high streets.

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“A lot is being done and North East Lincolnshire has benefited from government support, but there is always more to be done. We can all do something and that’s use our shops rather than buying online.”

In the debate with Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Mr Vickers said: “One of the familiar names on high streets up and down the country is Wilko. It is crucial to the vitality of St Peter’s Avenue in Cleethorpes, but unfortunately the company has announced the store’s possible closure, which is of obvious concern, particularly to the staff. The Government has done a great deal to support our high streets, but this is clearly another example of the difficulties that companies are facing. Could I urge the Leader of the House to consider a debate to further explore what can be done to ensure that companies such as Wilko retain their outlet in Cleethorpes?”

Praising the championing of his constituency, Mr Rees-Mogg outlined the £4.8 billion levelling-up fund targeted at regenerating town centres and high streets.

He said: “Considerable measures have been taken to spur innovation and investment across the country and help business to build back better from the pandemic. We are increasing the British Business Bank’s regional financing programme to £1.6 billion, providing capital to businesses across the country; extending the temporary £1 million annual investment allowance cap to March 2023, providing more up-front support to help businesses to invest and grow; and reducing the burden of business rates by more than £7 billion over five years. “All those things should help high streets, but the support that my hon. Friend gives by encouraging people to use their high street and go to the shops will also be important in maintaining a competitive high street.”

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