The chair of the Commons business and trade committee has urged UK regulators “explore every option” to claw back millions in dividends paid to Wilko’s founding family.

Labour MP Liam Byrne made the call for regulatory action in the Commons on Thursday after Lisa Wilkinson, former chair of Wilko and the granddaughter of its founder, was grilled by a cross-party committee over Wilko’s collapse, which followed £15m in payouts to family trusts over the last nine years.

The collapse of the variety retailer this summer led to 400 store closures and 12,000 job losses and left its pension fund with a £50m black hole and £625m in debts.

Byrne said: “On Tuesday, we finally had answers from Lisa Wilkinson about the mistakes that led to the collapse at that much-loved firm. But Ms Wilkinson was not able to answer why 70% of the profits in the last four years were paid out in dividends to family trusts, while the deficit in the pension fund mounted, to now £50m.

“Will the secretary of state [for business] ensure that regulators explore every option to claw back those dividends so that Wilko pensioners are not shortchanged?”

Responding to Byrne, business minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “Clearly, the insolvency service is looking at this, is looking at the director’s conduct report from PwC, the administrators.

“It has been clear in that report so far they have no evidence of director misconduct but there’s further work ongoing. The Insolvency Service is due to meet the administrators PwC in January and we’ll look at that situation as it unfolds.”