Updated: A chain of Woolworths-like stores is set to open in November under the name Alworths, but could face legal hurdles.
Alworths plans to open its first store on November 5 -the 100th anniversary of Woolworths’ debut - in a former Woolies site in Didcot Oxfordshire. The group aims to open 4 more before Christmas and 22 within the next 12 months with a long term view of up to 50 stores.
Other former Woolworths sites — such as Wokingham in Berkshire and Faversham in Kent — are being considered for future locations. Stores will be situated in high street locations, predominantly in market towns across the UK.
Alworths is headed by former Woolworths head of stores and concessions Andy Latham, who is launching the project alone after a long association with former Woolworths director Tony Page and former UBS banker Gareth Thomas.
Latham has instead been working with a team of 15 ex-Woolworths colleagues at Alworths’ head office in Redhill, Surrey. Latham has already appointed the ex-Woolworths’ Store Manager at Didcot to run the first alworths store and is currently in the process of hiring many ex-Woolworths colleagues to work in the store.
Latham said: “This is a perfect time to launch Alworths. Not only does the UK high street desperately need an element of regeneration, but customers have not been able to find the products they need in their local towns. Woolworths left a big gap in the high street and in many people’s lives. Alworths will be servicing the local community and offering jobs to many local people.”
Latham had previously been attempting to raise money for the venture with Page and Thomas, since Woolworths went into administration in 2008.
Page told The Independent that he and Thomas would be “talking to lawyers” regarding Latham’s separate venture
According to research by CBRE, more than 60% of the 807 former Woolworths stores have been let or were under offer.
Discounters Iceland, Poundland and 99p Stores are predominant, but at least two other Woolworths-like retail ventures are among the sites’ new tenants. The Dorchester branch was reopened as Wellworths by its former Woolworths manager. Last week, WeeW opened in Stornoway.
- Check Retail Week’s Woolies Watch list to find out what happened to former Woolworths stores in your area.