Woolies to be reborn as web shop

February 3, 2009 | 09:13

Tags: #bankrupt #credit-crunch #online-shopping #web-shop #woolworths

Companies: #shop-direct-group

For those of you who miss the late, great Woolworths, take heart – it might be gone, but it's certainly not being forgotten.

According to an article over on BetaNews, the much-loved British brand will be gracing screens up and down the country thanks to plans for its resurrection as an online-only store.

Shop Direct Group's chief executive officer, Mark Newton-Jones, has issued a press statement which announces his company's plans to “[re-launch] the Woolworths name online.” Describing the sadly defunct chain as “a much-loved brand that engenders huge affection among British consumers” and an “important part of the country's retail heritage,” Newton-Jones plans to launch the web store under the Woolies brand during 2009, 100 years since the first store was opened.

Before its sad demise as a bricks-and-mortar – which left many considerably out of pocket – the company had a long and profitable history of dabbling in technology sales. I personally can remember buying several Commodore 64 games from the chain – although that is, obviously, going back a few years now. In more recent times, the company wasn't afraid to throw its retail weight behind a particular new technology – with its support of Blu-ray rather than HD-DVD a case in point. Whether the brand now has any goodwill left in it after a bankruptcy that saw thousands left without jobs and shop fixtures and fittings being sold at a knockdown price remains to be seen.

Another unknown in all this is Shop Direct Group itself: although the plan to re-launch Woolworths is good news, it's difficult to see where the capital for the project is coming from. So far this year the group has had to lay off more than a thousand employees across the UK – not a good sign for a company due to resurrect a much-loved brand. Despite these belt-tightening measures, the group is confident of success – and hopes that the use of the Woolies brand will help grow its online sales to account for more than 70 percent of all business carried out by this time next year.

Pleased to see that Woolies lives on – in name, at least – or should the company be given a peaceful burial? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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