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#289083 - 3rd Feb 2009 9:43am Woolworths is to be reborn online

The Woolworths brand is to be relaunched as an online retailer after being bought by Daily Telegraph owners, Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay.

The much-loved High Street chain went into administration in November and its more than 800 stores closed a month ago after struggling with debts of £385m.

It is thought only a fraction of the former total of almost 30,000 staff will get their jobs back.

Woolworths' children's clothing label Ladybird is also to be re-born online.

The brands are being bought by Shop Direct Group, owned by the Barclay twins, for an undisclosed sum.

They will sit alongside their other online retailers, including Great Universal and Marshall Ward.

Shop Direct, formerly Littlewoods Home Shopping, last week announced that it would cut 1,150 jobs in north-west England, mainly from its Crosby call centre.

'Prosper again'

The company's chief executive Mark Newton-Jones said he was confident about Woolworths' future.

"This is great News and we are confident that Woolworths, as an online brand, will once again prosper and quite rightly stay at the heart of British retailing."

He said it was hoped to launch the new venture by the summer.

"It would have been a tragedy should the name have disappeared," Mr Newton-Jones said. "It is an iconic name."

Details of the new product ranges to be offered will be announced in the next few months.

"Essentially we will sell children's clothing through the Ladybird name and also other products," said Mr Newton-Jones.

"But what we're looking to do is encourage customers to come to us and tell us what they would like to see from Woolworths and what they liked and disliked and we've set a website up already. You can come and register online with us this morning and tell us the sort of products you'd like to see."

Value issues

Retail consultant Teresa Wickham told the BBC that the online retail landscape was now a "very competitive marketplace".

"Amazon is intending to sell groceries online, and Tesco is going to sell clothing online," she said.

"If Woolworths can pick up on what was good about it - such as Ladybird and Chad Valley - then they could capture a new market. They have also got to show very good value.

"In many ways this is the ideal time for this move though, while the brand is still fresh in people's minds."

She said that those who shopped on the Woolworths website would not automatically be those who shopped at the High Street stores, as many of those personal shoppers were elderly, and not necessarily internet-aware.

But she added: "People are generally getting more used to buying online, and the online clothing sector is predicted to grow over the coming year."

Supply issues

The Woolworths' store closures followed a clearance Sale, which saw stock and fixtures and fittings being sold at discount prices.

Empty stores in prime High Street locations are likely to be reopened by other businesses, with frozen food chain Iceland to buy 51 stores.

Debt-laden Woolworths saw its difficulties compounded last year when it was forced to pay cash when buying goods from suppliers.

Trade credit insurers were no longer prepared to cover its suppliers in case Woolworths was unable to pay for the stock.

Store sales continue

Joint administrator Neville Kahn, of Deloitte, said: "We are pleased to have achieved a deal, which will enable the Woolworths and Ladybird childrenswear brand names to continue.

It is clear that the British public has a great affection for Woolworths and we are delighted that the Shop Direct Group will be keeping the name alive.

The process of selling the Woolworths property portfolio continues with former stores under offer from prospective purchasers.


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#289087 - 3rd Feb 2009 10:04am Re: Woolworths is to be reborn online [Re: ]

Can we order "Pic n Mix"!!??

I hope Woolies will reopen on the High Street one day.

#289088 - 3rd Feb 2009 10:10am Re: Woolworths is to be reborn online [Re: ]
StuyMac Offline

Wiki Master

Registered: 24th Nov 2003
Posts: 12002
Loc: Wirralshire
I blame the pic n mix for them going under anyways...

They needed to weigh every customer on their way in and out of the shop as everyone knows youd eat the pic n mix in the store and not pay for any raftl

What If There Were No Hypothetical Questions?

#289141 - 3rd Feb 2009 1:37pm Re: Woolworths is to be reborn online [Re: StuyMac]
MissGuided Offline

Wiki Guardian

Registered: 18th Jul 2008
Posts: 9995
Loc: Back of the wardrobe
Eeww pic n' mix. I had a mate used to do Saturday job in Woollies. She warned me never to buy the sweets there. She said she regularly saw other staff sweep up sweets from the floor into a dustpan and then tip them back into the dispensers.

I never ever stole a sweet from the pic n' mix. How dare you make such an accusation!!!

I did however steal a couple of CD singles for a joke one day. We were testing the security cameras - that was going to be my excuse if I'd got caught.


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