25. (18) Tony Wilkinson and Family £280m (£350m)
Things have been pretty tough in the high street, and this is having an effect on Tony Wilkinson’s famous discount Wilkinson Hardware stores, with a reduction in cash inflow. However, the East Midlands-based firm has a strong balance sheet and is probably worth around £220 million.
Tony Wilkinson’s father opened his first store in Leicester in 1930. Now 78 years later Wilkinson has more than 300 stores around the country and turns over more than a billion pounds. Recent store openings include Perry Barr, York, Pembroke Dock, Stapleford, Kings Heath, Cardiff and Carmarthen.
Wilkinson’s “pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” principles have resulted in one of the UK’s most successful chains of hardware and convenience stores, with four million people visiting a Wilkinson store every week.
Since its formation the company has expanded its range to cover clothing, confectionary, toiletries, perfumes, DVDs and toys, with many of its offerings under its own Wilko brand name.
The firm’s founder, JK Wilkinson, died in 1997, and his son Tony Wilkinson, now 71, has retired. The business is now run by the grand-daughters of its founder, Karin Swann and Lisa Wilkinson.
The company has its headquarters and a distribution centre in Manton Wood, Nottinghamshire and has also opened a second distribution centre in Magor, South Wales.
Wilkinsons plans to have more than 500 stores in the UK by 2012, turning over £3 billion, and its store openings continue apace, driven by chief executive Stuart Mitchell.
In the year to February 2008 the company increased its turnover to £1,592 million despite high levels of competition, a softening retail market and price deflation. Pre-tax profits were £50.3 million.