When did Woolworths close and who owns it?

WOOLWORTHS fans were excited after a tweet claimed that the former retail giant was making a comeback – but it might have been a cruel hoax.

Woolies was a staple of the British high street. Here we take a deeper look at its history and who owns it now. 

Former high street stalwart Woolworths fell into administration in 2008 and closed its stores in January 2009Credit: PA:Press Association

When did Woolworths close?

Woolworths fell into administration in 2008, and all 800 of the retailer’s stores closed in January the following year.

The retailer, famous for its sweet pick-n-mix selection, was a high street stalwart and sold a variety of products from kitchen supplies to gardening equipment to clothing.

But Woolworths faced spiralling losses as online retail grew and the firm faced difficulties with its suppliers, according to This Is Money.

It was laden with £385million of debt at the time of its collapse, which left more than 27,000 unemployed.

The majority of the premises are now owned by other discount chains including Poundland and Iceland, according to BBC reports.

The original American firm was founded in 1879 when FW Woolworth  opened a shop in the state of Pennsylvania

The original American firm was founded in 1879 when FW Woolworth opened a shop in the state of Pennsylvania

Who owns Woolworths?

Woolworths opened its first UK store in Liverpool in 1909, as a subsidiary of US parent company FW Woolworth.

The original American firm was founded in 1879 when Frank Woolworth, a sales assistant, opened a shop in the state of Pennsylvania.

Woolies, as it became known, officially came under British ownership in 1982 when it was acquired by Paternoster Stores Ltd. 

In 2009, Littlewoods owner Shop Direct bought the trademark and sold to customers online through Woolworth.com.

The company ran the retail website but closed it six years later in 2015 and merged it into its Very brand.

Is Woolworths opening again in the UK?

Rumours of a possible comeback for the retailer were sparked by a mysterious tweet from an account named “Woolworths UK” on Tuesday October 27. 

The tweet read: “Here to save 2020! Woolworths is coming back to your high street, as a physical store!”

The Twitter account is not verified and the messages are littered with spelling errors – leading many to wonder whether it is a hoax. 

This included spelling Woolworths as Woolsworths.

The account said Woolworths is returning to the high street with three trial stores due to open in late 2021, but it didn’t confirm where these will be located.

It added: “Very owns the online Woolsworths, so we will be retail only.

“Before we launch we have a few legal contracts to sign, but we’re super excited!”

A spokesperson for Shop Direct, which rebranded to The Very Group last year, told The Sun: “We own the Woolworths trademark in the UK.

“The Twitter account UKWoolworths is not connected to The Very Group.”

Woolworths 1970’s Christmas advert starring Kenney Everett and David Hamilton


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