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Could Woolies return to the High St?

Woolworths on the High Street again?

What an idea! Could this enduring brand, a ‘British institution’ really make a comeback?

It’s interesting that many still view the Woolworths hashtagbrand as intrinsically British. As British as Fish & Chips they say (incidentally that was invented in Portugal). It’s part of hashtaglocal hashtaghighstreet heritage many of us grew up with, whether buying pick-and-mix, records and CDs or even fishing tackle.

But the Woolworths brand has a far broader heritage.

I remember discovering Woolworths was also a national institution in both Australia and New Zealand when I was there in the nineties. It was actually quite a bit more upmarket than it was over here, think Waitrose & Partners, a bit of a shock to the system at the time.

There’s actually no connection with these Antipodeans, just the power of the brand and an opportune moment in 1924 when the name hadn’t been registered or trademarked over there. Smart!

It also existed in a number of other countries too, including South Africa, Ireland, Cyprus, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and the West Indies. A truly global brand then.

How come? It’s because our beloved Woolies was actually a division of the American F. W. Woolworth Company founded in 1879, among the most successful 'five-and-dime' businesses the world had seen. It set trends and created the modern retail model that most stores follow today…

But the US brand disappeared in 1997 evolving into Foot Locker. In the UK Woolies soldiered on until 2009 when all 807 of its stores sadly closed.

What happened that led to their collapse and why almost 15 years later does this brand still holds such a powerful UK legacy and cultural significance. And is that powerful enough to allow its revival?

Woolworths was always a "five and dime". That’s a variety store that sells a wide range of inexpensive household goods. It’s where its success lay. They knew their audience and what they wanted. They stuck to a simple proposition. They built a brand that was consistent. For over a 100 years it worked.

And it still works. Look at Poundland & Dealz, Dunelm, The Works Stores Ltd, B&M Retail, The Range, Euronics Group and Next. “Brands that understand their customers and have a clear and consistent proposition build trust and loyalty” says We Are Acuity. Woolworths did that well, and in fact so well that people still remember that proposition, that brand and those stores 15 years later.

Could and should Woolworth return to our High Streets? Current German brand owners HH Holdings Inc. chief Roman Heini told Retail Week that 60% of products that Woolworth GmbH sells are priced at €3 or below. "

Sounds like a true ‘five and dime’? What do you think?

If you are in the Retail sector you might be interested in our Talking Local podcast. Have a listen and let us know what you think?

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Your local retail partners, whether branches, retailers, dealers, franchisees, or affiliates they need your support and you need their's, get in touch with We Are Acuity today for a FREE marketing audit by clicking HERE.

Or if you'd like to read more about Local Marketing have a look at our blog page "Local Thinking': https://www.weareacuity.com/local-thinking-our-blog

#marketing #branding #retail #podcast

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