The cut price upstart that wants to steal you away from John Lewis


Wilko logo

The family-run business was founded in 1930, when James Kemsey Wilkinson and his fiancee opened a store in Leicester. Now known as Wilko, it has almost 400 stores nationwide, as well as a website (, and sells hardware, toiletries, homeware, haberdashery, electricals: everything but groceries (although it does sell sweets and drinks).

Yet you won't see any TV adverts. For its success lies in its stealthy approach to wooing the middle-classes with incredible value for money. While the so-called Aldi effect has seen professionals proud to pick up prosecco from the low-cost supermarket and boast about bargain salami, they've still been buying their saucepans from John Lewis and secateurs from Robert Dyas.

Experts agree that Wilkinsons is tapping in to a major retail trend. For a start, saving money is more fashionable right now than Victoria Beckham's latest collection.

'Pressure on household incomes in the recession meant people were forced to shop more intelligently to make their static (or diminishing) budgets stretch further,' says Caroline Myall, head of research at international retail design consultancy Shopworks Ltd. 'This has resulted in a shift in attitude towards less expensive retailers, particularly among the middle-classes. Shoppers have a basic range of demands. Whether we're shopping in Prada or Primark, we want similar things: quality, design and style, value for money, an enjoyable purchasing experience and great customer service.'

Read the full article published in the Femail section of the Daily Mail