In a reflection of the current turbulent, technology-driven times, British retailer Woolworths, which closed down a month ago, is set to be resurrected in an online avatar. Its subsidiary children's clothing label Ladybird is also to be re-born online.
Shop Direct Group, the home shopping company owned by the billionaire twins David and Frederick Barclay, yesterday said that it had acquired the Woolworths brand for "an undisclosed sum" and planned to start online sales under the name in the summer.
The much-loved High Street chain went into administration in November and its more than 800 stores closed a month ago after struggling with debts of £385 million. (See: UK's iconic Woolworth store will shut down in January)
The retailer was the highest-profile casualty of a slump in consumer spending that last month also led to the collapse of Barratts Shoes, Land of Leather Holdings and Adams Childrenswear. It is thought only a fraction of the former total of almost 30,000 staff will get their jobs back.
"Woolworths is a much-loved brand that engenders huge affection among British consumers and is an important part of the country's retail heritage," Shop Direct's CEO, Mark Newton-Jones, said in a statement. "In what will be Woolworths' 100th year, we are proud to be reviving the brand for future generations. We are confident that Woolworths, as an online brand, will once again prosper."
Administrator Deloitte is continuing to seek buyers for empty Woolworths stores and said Monday that an undisclosed number of properties were "under offer from prospective purchasers."
Iceland Foods, the British frozen-foods chain, bought 51 Woolworths stores last month, and the Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz said last week that it had agreed to take over three stores. (See: Beleaguered British retailer Woolworths finally finds a buyer)