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Sarah Samways

Sarah Samways

Account Director at Notts PR.

Welcome to the first in a new series of blog posts looking at the Notts companies we admire. And we are going to begin with high street favourite Wilko.

Based in Worksop, the retailer has its roots firmly set in the East Midlands. Its first store opened in Leicester in 1930 and now, almost 90 years later the company has over 300 stores across the UK.

Much of that growth was down to one man, Tony Wilkinson, who took control of the business in 1972 when it had just 11 stores and during a 33 year spell at the helm took the company to 246 outlets nationwide before stepping back in 2005 to enjoy a well earned retirement.

Despite such rapid growth the company has remained in the hands of the Wilkinson family with Tony’s daughter Lisa now chairman. What a great East Midlands business story.

The stores were officially called Wilkinsons right up until 2012 although the public had been affectionately referring to the company as Wilko for as long as anyone can remember – probably since the 1930s. The decision to rebrand, one could argue, is the ultimate example of a retailer listening to its customers.

So, what’s so special about Wilko? Well, as a brand they know exactly who they’re talking to and how to reach them.

Wilko is about offering value, and giving their customers choice at different price points while having a huge range of products under one roof.
Where else can you buy paint, birthday cards, toothpaste and hamster cages all in one store?

When it comes to marketing they have relied heavily on advertising in newspapers and on direct mail leaflet drops. This combined with good in store point of sale make it impossible to miss the great deals the store has on offer.

Items as you walk in, on the end of aisles and to mark occasions like Easter, times of the year like summer holidays and of course Christmas, make the deals and bargains hard to resist. What is so clever about Wilko is that it appeals to shoppers on all budgets and across the age range.

Walk into any store and you’ll find people from every walk of life, and each will no doubt walk in with one purchase in mind and end up coming out with armfuls.

And that’s the genius of Wilko – it give consumers what they want and all those things they never knew they wanted or needed.



Notts PR is a PR agency based in Nottingham.