SOUTHEND council has hinted plans are in the works for a tenant to take over the massive Wilko unit in the Victoria Shopping Centre.

The store closed for good earlier this month after 28 years of operation, after administrator PwC confirmed at the end of September that all 111 Wilko stores across the nation will be shutting.

Echo: Closed - Southend Wilko team outside of the store on its final dayClosed - Southend Wilko team outside of the store on its final day (Image: Newsquest)

Following shut down, the council, which owns the centre, has been working to try and get a private tenant back in the unit as soon as possible to return “vibrancy” to the city.

Tony Cox, Conservative leader of Southend Council, said: “It was such a shame to see Wilko go, and my heart goes out to all the staff members affected.

“However, we’re working to get a tenant interested in the unit and to get it back up and running.

“I want to see the unit be operated by a sustainable business in the long-term to give the centre and Southend more vibrancy.

“I’m keen to see it back open, and we’re doing everything we can to allow shoppers to walk into that space once again.”

The Echo asked readers what ideas they have to replace Southend’s Wilko, and 405 comments were left.

Many suggested a B&M or a Dunelm, with some even jokingly suggesting the return of Woolworths, which went bust in late 2008.

Danielle Garner thought: “Maybe an entertainment venue of some description, I don’t think making it another shop will do very well due to location."

Andy NChris Roberts added: “Definitely a community space. Focus Youth Centre never got rebuilt, so use that space for a youth club."

Readers also wanted to see a Ikea Marketplace, which is what Daniel Cowan, Southend Labour leader, suggested.

He added: “We need a viable and popular retail offering, like Wilko provided.

“Something like Ikea Marketplace would do that because it’s a big-name brand, which will sustain that space, it offers items that people are interested in, and it’ll save the trip to Lakeside for hundreds of people.

“I hope we can fill the space soon.”