Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Doors closing on Woolworths

About a fortnight ago I went across to see Hunger in the Yorkgate Cityside Moviehouse. And on the way out, I called in the Big W. For old times’ sake! After all, the doors could be closing for the last time soon.

Doors closing on Woolworths for the last time?

The atmosphere inside the store was funereal, with part of the store’s enormous floor space already cordoned off, and staff joylessly stacking the shelves. It was as if an enormous ball of tumbleweed would soon blow in through the sliding doors and up the aisle.

Woolworths moved out of the Belfast City Centre about four years ago. And it was missed. Where else could you get a cheap tool, buy a cheap bulb, find a cheap tea pot, and rot your teeth on a budget. Now you need to go to four different shops to do all those things.

Wollies' Pick'n'mix

Where else could you find a remote-controlled flipping rat?

Remote-controlled flipping rat

But the signs aren’t good ...

Sign on the way out of  Woolworths

... with the Administrator Deloitte signalling this evening that it would be holding store closure sales in all 815 UK stores from tomorrow (Thursday) and that “it is possible that some stores may close before the end of December” if deals with prospective buyers cannot be achieved.

Exiting Woolworths or Woolworths exiting?

Update - Some other local bloggers have been posting on Woolworths' demise. Lord Belmont has been wondering about the vultures that are circling, while Russell doesn't blame Woolworths' collapse on the recession and states that "the face of retail is changing and only time will tell if it is for the better".


Joe said...

Woolies left the south about 25 years ago, sad to see them go then, it was part of many a person's childhood everything from old 45's at 45p to fishing tackle and home brew.
It was a status symbol for a provincial town if it was big enough to have one, they were a real draw.

Timothy Belmont said...

The Management of Connswater Shopping Centre will, doubtless, be working hard to find a successor to the Woolworth's store there. It's one of the larger units.


Anonymous said...

An elderly Uncle said to me the other day how sad it was to see Woolworth's closing. I asked him how long it was since he had shopped there, and after a bit of calculation we came up with the fact that it had been 18 years. I think that gives an indication as to why it is closing! I only went in there to pass time on the way to dental appointments, and even then I rarely bought anything. Sentimentality is unavoidable at this time of year, and my heart goes out to the staff who will lose their jobs. But the reality is that Woolworth's died a long time ago.

Russell McQuillan said...

My thoughts here

and here

John Self said...

I agree with Anon and Russell, though I would say perhaps that the Current Economic Climate (TM) has hastened its end. The writing has been on the wall for Woolworths for years (similarly MFI, which has been in administration three times in the last ten years, and just a few months ago was the subject of a last-ditch management buyout).

I can't remember the last time I went into Woolworths in Connswater, or when I had last shopped in the city centre one while it was still there. Tesco has supplanted it - now, people get their essential household stuff with the weekly shop, and town centre shopping is more 'leisure shopping' for non-necessities.

Tesco's dominance is cause for concern in itself - it closed down Eason in Connswater, as they couldn't compete on stationery, books etc - and is why I never shop there if I can avoid it. But I do wonder if a Gerry I'll Show Them Who's Boss Robinson or the like could have turned Woolworth's around.

I wouldn't be surprised to see other former bright lights of the city centres like Argos go the same way. HMV and Dixons Group were always posting worrying results even in what are now (retrospectively: nobody was saying this at the time!) seen as 'the good times', so heaven knows whether they'll survive, or go the same way as The Pier (the second unit in Victoria Square to close, after Hardy Amies).

Oh and speaking of Dixons Group, my father and I were in Currys at Drumkeen Retail Park/Forestside the other night, and were 'served' by the most sullen, silent, unhelpful shop assistant ever. Literally the only thing she said to us was "That's forty eight ninety nine." If that's what their staff are like, no wonder they're in trouble.

Anonymous said...

That is what their staff are like, regardless of what time of day or day of the week you go in. It is probably the worst Curry's to shop in, and that is saying something!

I also experienced the O2 shop in Victoria Square last week where the staff were perfectly pleasant, but couldn't give a toss about whether i bought anyhting. Everything I asked for they said was 'out of stock, try the Carphone Warehouse'. After four attempts to buy a phone I did just that, got served immediately with the exact phone I wanted and left a new convert to the Carphone Warehouse wo I had previously thought not worth shopping with.

Ruth E said...

I was in our local woolies on Friday and the atmosphere was much the same. Got talking to some staff who are from church and they're real low - they didn't find out they were closing til it was on the news. Also was told about a lady who will have been working at woolies for 40 years come February who'll now be loosing out on her 40 yr bonus cos of it all too.

It'll be real sad to see them go, they'll be leaving a huge gap in Banbridge and other towns like it.