Value brand Worth It shatters sales targets in launch week
Woolworths' Worth It brand, which marks the retailer's return to its value heritage, has smashed sales targets in its first week.

The sales surge has delighted management, who believe it shows struggling Woolies' potential as they attempt a turnaround.

Woolworths' managing director Tony Page said sales of the range had been double his expectations and that some lines had nearly sold out.

Page, who joined Woolworths from Asda in September and spearheaded the launch, said that the success of Worth It meant Woolworths was well placed to combat the supermarkets.

'There's nothing in Asda Smart Price and Tesco Value that you can't get at Woolies Worth It,' he said. He added that Worth It range played on Woolworth's strengths and heritage.

Best-selling products included a mug for 28p, wrapping paper for 84p and a pack of 10 coat hangers for 74p.

The early success of the value brand will be welcomed by the City. Sales at the retailer have gone into meltdown since the supermarkets made big pushes into general merchandise and Woolworths has struggled to find a convincing turnaround strategy. Worth It has been one of the most significant initiatives since Page joined.

He said the value brand will be extended by 50 per cent to 600 products by September, to capitalise on its popularity with shoppers. Page declined to reveal new product areas, but said the lines would go beyond what is offered by competitors.

'Anything we do from now on is in addition. It's nice to get a head start,' said Page. The retailer insisted it was making a strong margin on Worth It, despite its low prices.

Retail Knowledge Bank director Robert Clark said that Woolworths has the scale to achieve volumes to challenge the supermarkets on price.

However, he warned: 'Marketing it, merchandising it and upping footfall is going to be quite a task. The concept is one that arguably should have been pursued long before now, given the way the value segment has grown.'

The store that Worth It perfor-med best at was Highgate in London, despite it being located in an affluent area. Worth It's percentage sales contribution was into double figures at the branch.

Page said more affluent areas performing better was not a surprise. 'The richer shopper can be a canny shopper,' he said.

Worth It has not yet been advertised, but a national TV campaign will launch nearer autumn. The adverts will feature Rolf Harris, Kelly Osbourne and Darth Vader, alongside the Woolworths characters Woolie and Worth.

l Standalone childrenswear chain Ladybird, operated under licence by Copper Alley, is to stock a selection of Chad Valley toys in its international stores.

The product offer will include Ladybird-branded soft toys, as well as Chad Valley-branded ranges. Woolworths owns the Ladybird and Chad Valley brands.