The former chair of collapsed shop chain Wilko has said Liz Truss’s mini-budget was partly to blame for the company going out of business.
Lisa Wilkinson said a spike in interest rates meant that a credit facility they were negotiating became too expensive.
Wilkinson, the granddaughter of the company’s founder, also said she was “devastated” for letting down the 12,000 workers who were employed by Wilko.
She was speaking while giving evidence to the Commons business and trade committee, which is carrying out an inquiry into the firm going bust in August.
Last year’s mini-budget, delivered by then chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, saw taxes for the wealthy slashed in an attempt to boost economic growth.
But with government borrowing set to soar to pay for it, the money markets responded by going into meltdown, leading to hikes in interest rates and a dramatic fall in the value of the pound.
Explaining how the company had run out of cash, Wilkinson said: “During 2022 we were trying to move from a revolving credit facility, which we didn’t use, to a more secured debt position
“We were about to enter into secured lending arrangements with [Macquarie Bank] when the 2022 mini-budget happened. Literally, we were in the midst of that.
“And at that point the interest terms of that loan were hiked massively and that became unfeasible and so that was a contributor.”
Wilkinson also clashed with Labour MP Liam Byrne, the committee’s chair, over whether she would apologise to Wilko’s employees.
She said: “I don’t know how to put into words how sad I am that we have let down all our customers, all our team members, our suppliers, our advisers genuinely. I don’t know what you want me to say.”
Byrne replied: “Sorry was the one word I was looking for.”
Wilkinson said: “You can have the word sorry, of course I’m sorry, if you wish me to say the word sorry - I thought devastated covered it. I apologise, I wasn’t trying to be clever.”