A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Sadness of Woolies!

Woolworths is in administration. It's a terrible end to a once mighty name of the British high street. However, it might not be over. It has been said that Dragon's Den star, Theo Paphitis has an interest, but that Deloittes won't deal. If anyone can turn the ship around he has the best chance. Let's see what happens in the New Year with the business. I hope its a case of victors not vultures!

I was in the Solihull branch of Woolworths yesterday. All very sad. Demoralised staff - "We don't know anything" - and a couple of trousered policewomen watching the punters - and the customers behaving in part as if they were bit players in Survivors. Two things came to mind. First I thought, why do corporate bosses, now the accountants, never give proper instructions to staff. A simple straightforward message is all that is required. Just as Stansted Airport bosses yesterday were apparently mute with passengers, Woolies staff get to know only what drops from the boardroom table.

The second was that a fine name in toys could go down the pan too. Chad Valley Toys have been going for nearly two hundred years. This is a Brummie business. The Chad is a stream in Harborne, Birmingham. Hence the name. Chad Valley toys were in every toy shop when I was young. Woolworths bought the brand and had toys made for them. Will we see Chad Valley Toys re-emerging from all this? I wonder.

Another thing for the memory. Every Woolies own brand product used to carry the Winfield name. It was a smart move in that most people thought it had nothing to do with Woolworhs. It came from Frank's middle name. He was a man who wanted his name to live on. He had the Woolworth Building erected in New York City. In Britain it used to be "nothing over 6d", which tells you how far inflation has gone! It was the UK version of a five and dime store.

Now we wait and see. Will Woolworths make the century, or is a case of 99 years and out?


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