Blackpool Council statement on Wilko problems and impact on Houndshill Shopping Centre scheme

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A major blow has been dealt to the £21million extension of the Houndshill Shopping Centre in Blackpool with the announcement that retailer Wilko is on the brink of collapse.

The homeware chain was due to take over a large unit on the ground floor of the building which is nearing completion, and will also include a nine-screen cinema.

Wilko agreed a 15-year lease with Blackpool Council, which owns the Houndshill Centre, in February 2021 on a purpose-built 22,500 sq ft unit on the site of the formerTower Street car park.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But on Thursday (August 3), the family owned company said it had filed a “notice of intention” to appoint administrators after failing to find enough emergency investment.

Image from March this year of work on the Houndshill Shopping Centre extensionImage from March this year of work on the Houndshill Shopping Centre extension
Image from March this year of work on the Houndshill Shopping Centre extension

Wilko has 400 stores across the UK. The former Blackpool Wilko store on Talbot Road was demolished in 2020 to make way for a new Holiday Inn hotel.

Blackpool Council said it was assessing its options following the announcement by the company.

A council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the situation surrounding Wilko and their recent issuance of notice to appoint administrators.

“Whilst the extent of their insolvency procedure remains unclear, the successful delivery of the phase two project at the Houndshill remains a top priority for the council, and we are in discussions with the tenant to ratify their long-term position within the town centre.

“We will then reassess our options as necessary.”

Wilko chief executive Mark Jackson has said they would continue to talk with interested parties about options for the business.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said the company was left with “no choice but to take this action”, but hopes to find a solution as quickly as possible to “preserve the business”.

Work began on the Houndshill extension in September 2021, with funding including £5m from the Government’s Covid 19 Getting Building Fund and the rest from council borrowing.

Coun Paul Galley, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said the loss of Wilko would be a huge blow to the project.

He said: “My heart goes out to all the incredible Wilko’s staff out there and I truly hope a buyer can be found.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The prospect of losing Wilko will be a huge blow to the Houndshill Centre, our town centre and most of all the people in Blackpool who don’t drive as it brought a leading DIY store into the town centre with most DIY stores requiring a car to reach.

“If Wilko’s can’t be saved then we need a Houndshill plan that proactively recruits another DIY related store.

“An opportunity now exists for the council to think differently and create a Blackpool retail strategy which recruits a number of business ambassadors to sell Blackpool to commercial and retail investors finding shops and stores that not only support the Houndshill but crucially the needs of the people of Blackpool. Never have those networks been more needed.”

The other main tenants in the Houndshill extension will be the Backlot Cinema on the upper levels, and the Backlot Diner which will occupy restaurant space in the scheme.

A deal to include an Imax screen in the cinema development was announced in July last year.