Business Diary: All's going too well for Wellworths

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The Independent Online

All's well at Alworths and Wellworths, proving that there's more life to the Woolworths format than many believed. In fact, it's all going so well at Wellworths that the store's going to have to change its name. Set up by a former Woolies manager, Claire Robertson, on the site of her own store when her employer went bust, the venture has been a spectacular success. So much so that Shop Direct, which bought the Woolworths name out of administration, blocked further expansion under the name because it feels it's too much like theirs. As a result, it's being changed to Wellchester. Diary fears Woolworths' legal victory means all won't be so well in future for Alworths' name either.

Mintel is in realms of science fiction

It seems that the worst nightmares of science-fiction writers are going to be realised, at least according to analysts at Mintel. In its Consumer Trends for 2011 report (top prediction: prepare for the worst), it asks "who needs humans?", before highlighting the creep of machines into the service sector, through such innovations as cashier-less checkouts. The trend, says Mintel, will see many jobs permanently displaced. Fortunately, there's a pay-off. The report suggests: "Backlash and balance-seeking may lead to an increased cache for hyper-personal goods and services." Phew.

Flogging insurance is so undignified

Dignity, the fast-growing funeral provider, has teamed up with the life insurer Legal & General to, yes, sell funeral payment insurance plans through independent financial advisers. Yes, it seems that, having had your pension, the shiny-suited financial salesmen are by no means above pursuing you to the grave. Give them half a chance and they'd go beyond too. Diary is not exactly sure what is dignified about hard-selling funeral plans, but we suppose you can't really argue with the success of the company, which is never going to go short of business.

Co-Op also makes a grave error

Talking of which, Diary was unfortunate enough to catch the television advert for Co-Operative Funeral Services. Taboo-busting, says the group. But really, people wearing forced smiles as they discussed their demise as if it were a big party struck us as, well, ghoulish.