A "heartbroken" Wilko employee has said "screw you" to former head Lisa Wilkinson in an angry rant on behalf of her staff.

With 400 stores across the UK, the chain is well-known for its affordable everyday items.

In a since-deleted TikTok post that has now gone viral, the employee says: "I'm stood here, in my store, absolutely heartbroken. I've got 15 team members down the front there who have given their lives to Wilko(s).

"Lisa, I'm so angry with you. To tell me you've done everything. You did nothing compared to the team members that have worked in this business for decades and given their hearts and souls, I'll tell you I'm so angry with you.

"And do you know what, you can take our jobs away but the memories we have and our work ethic, we've done that. Lisa, screw you."

Lisa Wilkinson, the granddaughter of its founder, defended the collapsed retailer's multi-million dividend payouts in the run-up to its collapse.

She helped manage the Wilko retail empire for 20 years and dismissed criticisms of £77million payouts to former shareholders in an interview with the Sunday Times.

She told the publication that the popular high street chain would have collapsed even if it had not paid millions in dividends.

She told the paper: "The board checked, there was sufficient cash, we went through the right governance, the auditors checked it off. Is there a bit of me lying awake at night saying I wish we'd never taken a penny of dividends out? It might have made us survive a couple of months longer. What we have taken out really wouldn't have made a difference."

"If I get tearful, that’s how I feel"

Discount chain B&M said in September that it would take on up to 51 of Wilko's 400 stores in a deal worth £13m. And the owner of Poundland has agreed to take on the leases of 71 Wilko shops.

Wilkinson added: "Everybody has thrown everything and everything again at trying to make Wilko a success. The team members, the suppliers, the landlords.

"Everybody has thrown their soul and heart at it — and if I get tearful, that’s how I feel, because people have worked really bloody hard, round the clock, to keep this thing going."

Wilko stepped into the High Street gap left by the collapse of Woolworths in late 2008 but has struggled over the past decade partly due to growing competition from the likes of Poundland and B&M.

The chain’s remaining stores are all set to shut by early October after administrators failed to secure a deal from any suitor to buy the business.