Kids and Celebrations at Woolworths - 2002-2008
Following Woolworths' demerger from Kingfisher, new CEO Trevor Bish-Jones launched a radical new strategy to transform the brand. Described as a 'Kids and Celebrations' strategy this saw a new look for the larger stores in cities and market towns, which targeted mums and young children, introducing extended ranges of toys and promoting them towards the front of the store.
The range of own brand Chad Valley Toys was developed and enhanced, with the Company enjoying particular success with 'Action Squad' - a range of toy soldiers - alongside an extensive range of pre-school toys extending the fun learning theme.
The concept was extended further in the Company's new look out of town stores, with the former 'Big W' format amended and updated in Norwich and Tamworth and dedicating over a third of the total floor space to Toys and Children's clothes, highlighted by huge banners in the corners of the store. The displays included both bold displays of own-brand Chad Valley products and a range of supplier-branded toys to rival the market-leading Toys'R'Us out-of-town format.
In homage to Woolworths' value roots as the threepenny and sixpenny stores, and their legendary weigh-out confectionery, the out-of-town stores incorporated new fixtures crammed with pocket money toys branded as 'pic & mix'. The fixture was given pride of place in the main gangway at Norwich and Tamworth, and proved a big hit with shoppers when the stores opened in 2003.
The addition of an in-store ordering system (ISO) in 2005 allowed the company to make some of the larger toys sold out-of-town available to shoppers in the smaller High Street branches. Toys featured extensively in the Big Red Book and the website presence. Shop Direct Group has continued to build the Toy propsoition on-line.
A short-lived format for the small stores installed showcases above the main toy displays. These were used to display a selection of items from the extended range that was available to order. They were filled with items like bicycles which were too large and impractical to sell in-store, offering customers the option of collecting their purchases in the High Street on their next visit, or taking advantage of convenient home delivery.
A reappraisal of the firm's strategy inspired a new budget range, called 'WorthIt!' in 2007. This covered a gap in the offer, as the chain had allowed discounters to undercut them with so called 'low entry price point' ranges.
The WorthIt! toys were a hit, offering simple fun at pocket money prices. A magnetic fishing fame and brightly-coloured plastic windmills were particularly popular. Sadly the WorthIt! range came too late to save the stores, which fell into Administration in November 2008.
Fortunately the brand was saved and has now moved on-line. Today Shop Direct offer a huge range of toys at woolworths.co.uk, continuing a tradition that has already inspired children for five generations.
"Sell a toy, spread some joy"