Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The wonder of Woolies. . . .

I am sure I am not alone in feeling very sad about the news today that Woolworth's - a truly great 'British' institution - is in serious financial trouble.

At a time of deepening economic gloom to lose one of the best known and best loved names from our High Streets is very worrying - especially as it nationally employs 25,000 loyal staff members who have worked hard to keep 'the wonder of Woolies' alive for so many years, not least in our own local store in Moreland Road.

Like most people I guess I have very fond memories of this great store which was once an invaluable source of records, books, paper, endless cheap and cheerful presents and toys and of course the somewhat brand-defining Pic n Mix. It is a store which in my mind is tinged with happy memories and one for which I have enormous respect.

Sadly, however, the last time I popped into Woolies I had a horrible sense that it was a shop that was living on those memories and simply hadn't moved with the times. It was not just that it felt as if it hadn't entered the 21st century - it almost felt like it hadn't even left the 1970s. Other shops were doing what it once excelled in better (and even sometimes cheaper) and the store felt tired even though the enthusiasm and energy of the staff was as high as ever.

I hope even at this late stage that something might be done to save this great store chain which seems a real part of the British shopping experience even if it is (perhaps surprisingly) an American brand.

Let us all hope Woolies can 'pic' itself up and 'mix' with the big shops again.

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