Business News Deals Digital Retail

Woolies to reappear as etail operation

By | Published on Tuesday 3 February 2009

Once a brand has become synonymous with the credit crunch and the general collapse of capitalism as we know it, what better than to, erm, buy it and launch a website using its name? Especially if it’s a brand that had lost its way years ago, and which didn’t really stand for anything anymore.

This is presumably the logic employed by Shop Direct, the online and catalogue retailer owned by slightly strange Daily Telegraph proprietors David and Frederick Barclay, which is apparently the UK’s biggest home shopping retailer. They announced yesterday that they had bought the rights to the Woolworths name in the UK, and also its kids clothes brand Ladybird, both of which will be used for new etail operations.

It’s not the first time Shop Direct have bought old High Street brands – in 2005 they expanded their operations considerably by buying Littlewoods, though at least that company had an existing home shopping business that was of value.

It’s not clear how exactly the Woolies brand will be used by Shop Direct, though perhaps they’re planning on launching a website which mainly sells things you don’t really need at prices that aren’t really that competitive compared to supermarkets and pound stores. Oh, and Ronan Keating CDs and cola bottle sweets.

Anyway, here’s what Shop Direct CEO Mark Newton-Jones said of the acquisition: “Woolworths is a much-loved brand that engenders huge affection among British consumers and is an important part of the country’s retail heritage. In what will be Woolworths’ 100th year, we are proud to be reviving the brand for future generations”.