Woolworths – End of an era

With the store closure timetable being published another icon is set to be removed from the British High Street.

Woolworths - Carlisle

Woolworths - Carlisle

Famous for Pick ‘n’ Mix Sweets, Woolworths or Woolies as it is often known, is a familiar monument in almost every major town centre across the UK.

 Something about the red illuminated signage, the silver door handles and the cream coloured tiled floors just invokes memories  of  growing up.

Woolies has been a store for life, it has captured through the items in store, the timelines of so many people.

  • The first 45rpm single for a girlfriend.
  • Pots and pans for the home.
  • Bulbs and plants for the garden
  • The first clothing for a child.  
  • Cards for anniversaries.
  • Decorations and eggs for the annual festivities. 

and we must not forget the glue for repairing shoes when times were hard, cycle tyre repair kits and the gift tokens for loved ones far away at birthdays and at Christmas.

800+ stores to close

Woolworths will limp into 2009, however it may not manage to get the badge for trading 100 years in the UK unless a buyer for the brand can be secured.

The Administrators have agreed a store closure programme and all 27,000 permanent and temporary staff will lose their jobs unless a last-minute buyer can be found.

Woolworths operates 9 branches in Cumbria and all are set to close over the next few weeks.

  • Carlisle store to close on  27 Dec 08
  • Workington store to close on  27 Dec 08 
  • Penrith store to close on  27 Dec 08
  • Whitehaven store to close on  27 Dec 08
  • Ulverston store to close on  29 Dec 08
  • Keswick store to close on  29 Dec 08
  • Kendal store to close on  2 Jan 09 
  • Maryport store to close on  2 Jan 09
  • Barrow in Furness store to close on  2 Jan 09

Many of the Woolworth stores occupy buildings known as Woolworth Buildings like the one in Carlisle on English Street.


Woolworth Building - Carlisle
Woolworth Building – Carlisle

Completed in 1933 the building has stamped in stone above the main building facade the words ‘ Woolworth Buildings’.  

Could this be the lasting legacy of the Woolworths name in the Cities or will planners allow demolition for redevelopment?

Tens of thousands of square meters of prime retail area will be made available as a result of the many stores closing and some may see this as a chance to take advantage of the opportunities this may provide.

It will be interesting to see if the brand is secured and the unique opportunities now offered with the land, properties and prime town centre locations are seized or just wasted to become yet another ‘tat shop’ on the high street.




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