James Kempsey Wilkinson, known to all as JK, opened a small shop in Charnwood Street, Leicester in 1930. By the time of his death in 1997, he owned a chain of 100 Wilkinson stores throughout the Midlands. The Nottinghamshire-based company now boasts 187 stores, selling everything from gardening products and toiletries to clothing, home accessories and DIY goods, all at discount prices. Traditionally based in the North and Midlands, Wilkinson is now expanding into the South and West, a move spearheaded by the opening of a £60m distribution centre in South Wales in September 2000. The company is still owned by the Wilkinson family and aims to have opened 250 stores nationwide by 2003. Profits have grown 27% a year, from £15m in 1997 to £30.9m in 2000, when sales reached £586.9m.
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