Woolworths set for shock return to high street under former boss Tony Page

Former managing director has plans to revive the chain, almost a decade after it collapsed

Ben Chapman
Monday 24 April 2017 11:41
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Woolworths closed its doors for the last time in 2009
Woolworths closed its doors for the last time in 2009

Woolworths could be set for a shock return to UK high streets almost a decade after it collapsed.

The retailer, famed for pick n’ mix and school clothes was a fixture of UK town centres for almost 100 years before calling in the administrators in 2008. Now, former director of the brand, Tony Page is reportedly planning to revive the Woolworths name.

Speaking to the Daily Star, Mr Page said: "I am still emotionally attached to it."

Mr Page said he has contacted Shop Direct, the company that owns the rights to Woolworths but is not currently using it, and asked them if they would consider selling the brand.

“I still think it has got a role in the future," he added.

"They have taken the website down, so I'm curious now as to what might happen next because I still think the brand has got some propriety in spite of what happened in the past.

"I feel as though if the brand name was available it would still be a possibility to bring it back [to our high streets].

“I would want it to be much more a part of the community. The stores that really used to do well were those that were at the heart of the community, rather than being in the big shopping centres.

“It is much easier to walk down the road than order on Amazon.”

Woolworths opened its first store in 1909 in Liverpool. Around 27,000 staff were made redundant and more than 800 branches shut when the company folded in November 2008 after racking up around £400m in debt. The last remaining branch shut its doors in January 2009.

Staff were awarded compensation of £2,800 each on average in 2012 after an an employment tribunal ruled that the administrator called in by Woolworths had failed in its duty to consult with Usdaw, the shopworkers' union, before making staff redundant.

Shop Direct, which is owned by billionaire retail and media tycoons, the Barclay brothers, launched Woolworths as an online shop in February 2009, before closing it six years later.

Mr Page stepped down from his latest role as chief executive of The Original Factory Shop last month, having been in the position since 2013.

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