It is half a decade since the news broke that Woolworths was collapsing, a watershed event in the development of UK retail that heralded a period of unprecedented change on the high street.

It is half a decade since the news broke that Woolworths was collapsing, a watershed event in the development of UK retail that heralded a period of unprecedented change on the high street.

The flaws at the heart of Woolworths’ demise - its failure to move with the times at both a customer and structural level - have been in evidence many times since in retailers such as HMV and Comet. But the lessons learnt are increasingly prevalent too.

Some believe Argos, a one-time rival of Woolies, has been weighed down by a similarly large store estate that has been losing relevance. So there is a timeliness to the 700-store retailer this week previewing its vision of a new-model digital store.

Argos argues its store footprint is its advantage in an age when the shadow of Amazon looms so large over the battle for customer spend. And five consecutive quarters of growth are starting to underpin that logic with results.

However, since he took the helm, managing director John Walden has also been clear that the role of Argos’ store base needs to change.

The new concept is strikingly different from the retailer’s traditional store proposition, with window posters swapped for digital signage, catalogues replaced by browsers and video content, and its FastTrack service enabling shoppers to collect product ordered online within 60 seconds of arrival at the store.

At its core is the idea that the store is now less about inspiring product choice and more about service and collection.

And the unveiling of the new model in the heartland of the capital’s tech hub in Old Street is in its own way as significant a glimpse of the future for general merchandising as Tesco’s Watford relaunch earlier this year was for hypermarkets.