Woolworths Is Preparing A Shock Comeback To UK High Streets
Consumers mourned when Woolworths closed down nearly a decade ago and left a sweet counter-shaped hole in high streets across the nation.
Now, the friendly chain might be making a return, years after Woolworths went into administration in 2008 when it amassed nearly £400 million of debts.
Tony Page, the former director of Woolworths recently admitted he wants to buy the brand back from Shop Direct and bring the stores back to our street in a ‘similar format’ at the ‘heart of the communities’.
Page told Daily Star:
I have contacted Shop Direct and said ‘You’re not using the brand anymore, would you consider giving it to someone who would?’
They have taken the website down, so I’m curious now as to what might happen next because I still think the brand has got some propriety in spite of what happened in the past.
Although Page tried to buy the brand after its collapse – selling his family home in the process – he was outbid by Shop Direct, who also own Littlewoods and Very.
Shop Direct ran Woolies as an online retailer for six years before closing it down and merging it with the Very brand. Page said, ‘I feel as though if the brand name was available it would still be a possibility to bring it back.’
He continued, discussing his hopes for the future, adding:
I still think it has got a role in the future. I still absolutely think it would still be a physical retailer. I would want it to be much more a part of the community.
The stores the reality used to do well were those that were at the heart of the community, rather than being in the big shopping centres. It is much easier to walk down the road than to order on Amazon.
Page recalled closing the 800 commercial outlets, describing it as ‘traumatic’:
It was a huge disappointment when Woolies closed. People had worked there for decades, and for them they had lost their careers, jobs and their livelihoods.
It was traumatic, without a shadow of a doubt, and it would take half a day to explain why we couldn’t survive.
I strongly believe the core of Woolworths, however, was – and still could be – a strong and prosperous business. Although my wife would say I am mad and say, ‘Why don’t you let it go?’
Page mused the closing and why Woolies wasn’t financially stable, saying:
Fundamentally I think there were just some things that didn’t work, such as larger shops in the wrong place.
In the candid interview, Page explained, ‘I am still emotionally attached to it’.
If there’s anyone that can bring Woolies back, it sounds like it’s Page.