HMV boss: I had deal to save 10,000 Wilko jobs

The owner of HMV has revealed he was within 12 hours of saving homeware chain Wilko and up to 10,000 jobs.

Canadian tycoon Doug Putman claims the rescue was thwarted by a handful of the store’s big suppliers.

Wilko collapsed shortly afterwards in August, with 12,500 staff left out of work.

Mr Putman, 39, who has breathed life into HMV since buying the record chain out of administration in 2019, said: “We had a deal, I flew in to sign it. We were 12 hours away.”

But he claimed that at the last minute firms responsible for the high street stalwart’s IT systems refused to budge on fees they were due.

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Mr Putnam said: “Based on how expensive they would be for a four-month window, it was impossible to make it work.”

He added that another sticking point was rent on Wilko’s distribution centre, saying: “Outside of that we would have a done deal. It would have been around 250 stores of the 325 stores that were left then. Around 9,000 or 10,000 jobs would have been saved.

“We were super disappointed. I was very upset, very frustrated.

“Sometimes when you deal with big firms they are immovable.”

Former bosses at Wilko are due to be grilled by a Commons committee of MPs on Tuesday. They include ex-chairman Lisa Wilkinson, whose family controlled the retailer.

Mr Putman was speaking ahead of the reopening of HMV’s flagship store on London’s Oxford Street yesterday after a £1million refit.

The iconic shop, HMV’s first to open in 1921, returns after a four-year absence. Madness helped to mark the big day by signing copies of their new album.

But Mr Putman, who is a Fleetwood Mac fan, rapped the Government for not doing more for “bricks and mortar” retailers on the high street. He said: “You can’t keep solving problems by either taxation or forcing business to pay more.”

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