The Woolworths Museum

Left: East Grinstead one of 818 UK stores closed by Deloitte in 2009 42 days after going bust. The new owner Shop Direct (Very) Group took the brand on-line, but banned any reopening in the High Street. Centre: The Woolworth Building, once the world's tallest, survived 911 unscathed. Its top 30 floors have become become luxury apartments with awesome views across Manhattan. Right: Woolworth Augsburg 86150 Germany in 2002, since moved to Victoriastrasse. The chain survived administration. A white knight cut costs, re-established the founding principle of value, built a super-efficient supply chain, and has since doubled the chain to 620 German stores with 20 more in Poland and Austria. After acquiring the rights in 2024, the CEO Ronan Heini shared a pipe-dream that one day there will be 5,000 Woolworths across Europe including a return to the UK. Here's hoping!


Fall and Rise in the twenty-first century


Two Woolworth chains faced Administration in the Credit Crunch:
One was thrown off the High Street. The other was rejuvenated and aims to expand right across Europe. It may yet save its cousin.


Despite a hiccup in 2009, the German Woolworth survived the credit crunch. New owners faced up to some difficult decisions to cut overhead costs and drive up competitiveness, before re-establishing the brand's value heritage and defining a winning formula which which has already seen the chain grow to twice its original size in Germany, with plans in progress for many more openings at home in parallel with progressive expansion across the rest of Europe, including, they hope, ultimately a return to the UK and Ireland

Rejuvenation in Germany

Background and Overview


Expansion plans update 2024

Despite high hopes when it demerged from Kingfisher and a profit of £107m shortly before the millennium, after some initial success turnaround plans for Woolworths were undermined by increasing competition, the burden of debts imposed as part of the company set-up and a series of unforced errors by the Executive Directors who had little retail experience and had never worked in a Woolworth store. Despite a crediible turnaround plan, when the company collapsed they had upset the bankers so much that they were forced out of business in just 42 days, and punished by the Administrator selling the brand to an on-line retailer who was determined that neithr stores nor look-alikes would be permitted in British or Irish High Streets.


UK Woolworth Line suspended after 99 years' service

2000s Overview


Death by Demerger


New values and a new direction


Visit a new-look Woolworths Out-of-Town, as it opened in 2005


Market Towns and City Centres


The Smaller Stores


Multi-Channel Retail


Wholesale & Media


WorthIt! Value Comeback


Launch of the Virtual Museum


Meet the team


The Lighter Side


Wooly & Worth


Collapse and so-called "Rescue"


Biggest ever .. disaster