I was happy to hear on the radio this morning that the Woolworths name has been bought. I had begun to fear that the brand had been damaged too much by the events since November, but it seems as though Woolworths will still live on in some form.
The buyers are the Barclay Brothers, and will operate Woolworths as an online-only venture as part of the Shop Direct Group. It’s ironic that the new Woolworths will focus solely on the website since under the old management the website was one of the weakest parts of the retail arm in my view. But given the success of online-only Littlewoods under Shop Direct, it seems as though they know what they’re doing.
What’s interesting is that Shop Direct have also bought the Ladybird brand. The Ladybird logo is almost as prominent as the Woolworths logo on Shop Direct’s website. It’s a shame they missed out on buying Chad Valley, which was bought last month by Home Retail Group, the owners of Argos. I wonder if the WorthIt! range will return on the new website. I think that WorthIt! electrical goods, for instance, would go down a storm on the new website.
The fact that the new Woolworths will be selling Ladybird clothing appears to be the only thing they know so far. People are being invited to let them know what they liked and disliked about Woolworths to shape the new online store. But during an interview on the Today programme this morning, Shop Direct’s Chief Executive Mark Newton-Jones said that he doubted the new Woolies would be selling washing up bowls or light bulbs.
You can be sure that the new Woolies will also not be selling one of the items that it was most famous for. It would be difficult to offer pic ‘n’ mix in an online environment, but it was clear from much of the media coverage over the past couple of months that Woolies was known first and foremost for its pic ‘n’ mix. That is a real loss to the essence of Woolies.
It won’t be the same, but it is nice to see that the Woolworths name at least will be celebrating 100 years in Britain, albeit not all on Britain’s High Streets.
Thanks to those who thought of me when they heard the story and emailed me!