The famous Woolworths brand may be lost to the High Street, but its legacy lives on. Claire Robertson, the former manager of Woolies’ Dorchester branch, has today re-opened her store, which will now be known as Wellworths. Already dubbed ‘Wellies’, it's a general retailer staffed by 20 of her former Woolies staff. Well it’s not like she’s going to be sued for trademark infringement, right?
Woolies collapsed into administration before Christmas, one of the highest-profile victims of the consumer spending slowdown. However, the Dorchester store didn’t share its parent’s weaknesses – according to Robertson, it was consistently profitable even when the Woolies group was losing money hand over fist. It also enjoyed a plum high street location. So with a little help from the store leaseholder, she managed to persuade a consortium of investors to back her in re-opening it under a new name.
The newly-christened Wellworths, which was opened by DJ Chris Evans today, will look a little different to its predecessor – Woolies’ famous red and white has given way to Wellies’ blue, white and orange. And although it’ll still sell the famous pic’n’mix, it won’t stock CDs and video games, placing more of an emphasis on locally-produced products (very trendy). But the branding is obviously an appeal to the sympathies of those of us that were sorry to see the back of the iconic (albeit relatively pointless) Woolies stores. And judging by the media scrum at today’s opening, it’s a shrewd move.
Indeed, even the most hard-hearted pragmatist, who refuses to shed a tear over Woolies’ demise (and can’t see the point of copying a failed formula), must at least be impressed by Robertson’s entrepreneurial zeal. After working her way up from Saturday girl to store manager, she’s not even letting the collapse of the company and her subsequent redundancy put her off the job. ‘It gives people a bit of inspiration to go out and do something new or change direction, especially in these gloomy economic times,’ she told reporters today. An admirable ethos - although whether that will be enough to keep Wellies afloat remains to be seen...
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