UK-based hardware retail chain Wilko is set to close a majority of its stores within weeks as efforts to find a buyer have not materialised.

In its meeting with the trade union GMB Union, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the retailer’s administrator, ruled out the possibility of saving a majority of the business.

In a statement, PwC said: “While discussions continue with those interested in buying parts of the business, it’s clear that the nature of this interest is not focused on the whole group.”

PwC added: “Sadly, it is therefore likely that there will be redundancies and store closures in the future and it has today been necessary to update employee representatives.”

The household and garden products retailer operates nearly 400 stores and employs almost 12,500 people.

The retailer hopes to divest some stores, either individually or as part of larger packages.

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Staff redundancies in store and at call centres are expected to commence in the coming weeks.

GMB national secretary Andy Prendergast said: “GMB Union will continue to support our members through this process and will fight to ensure they are consulted as per the law and receive every penny they are entitled to.

“We will fight to ensure people are held accountable for this situation for the simple reason our members deserve so much better.

“GMB will not forget the incompetence that has led to this collapse and will we not forget the dividends paid to the millionaires who gambled workers jobs on their whims.”

Wilko filed a notice of intent (NOI) at the high court to appoint administrators in the first week of this month. A week later, the retailer collapsed into administration.

The administrator is currently still holding negotiations with those interested in buying parts of the business.

The Guardian quoted joint administrators Jane Steer, Zelf Hussain and Edward Williams as saying: “We know this will further add to the uncertainty felt by workers. We will be supporting staff through this deeply unsettling time, working closely with the government, JobCentre plus, unions and large employers to maximise possibilities for a rapid return to work for employees in the event of redundancies.”