Home shopping giant Shop Direct Group is to launch an ad campaign to promote the Woolworths online brand in the run-up to Christmas, one year after the famous high street chain collapsed.

Shop Direct finance director Steve Makin said the Woolworths website has had 4 million visits since it launched online in summer, but declined to reveal sales figures for the brand.

He said: “We’re going to be doing a combination of a TV and press campaign to remind customers that Woolworths is available online.”

Shop Direct bought the Woolworths brand in February and relaunched it as an online retailer. It also bought popular childrenswear brand Ladybird.

Shop Direct has been moving more of its business online and Makin said: “There is no recession online,” he said. “That’s certainly our view.”

Shop Direct said online sales increased 31% in the year to April 30, accounting for 49% of total group sales. Makin said the retailer remains on track to meet its 70% online sales target by the end of the 2010/11 financial year and may achieve the target earlier than expected.

Shop Direct, which also owns Littlewoods, will also launch an ad campaign for Very.co.uk in the run-up to Christmas featuring Fearne Cotton and Holly Willoughby.

Shop Direct this week reported sales up 7.4% to £1.7bn for the year to April 30, and a pre-tax loss of £114m after exceptional items, down from £173m a year earlier and mainly due to restructuring costs. EBITDA jumped 182% to £96m.

Makin said that he expected growth over the next year to be flat to “marginally positive”, partly because Shop Direct is taking a
more cautious approach to giving customers credit.