Monday, 29 December 2008

[109] Good-bye Woolworths Peckham

I walked past the Woolworths Peckham branch on Rye Lane today. It only has two days left until it closes on the 30th. Decided to check it out, and take some photos of the carnage. For those who aren't UK-based, Woolworths is a long-standing high-street shop that first opened in Liverpool in 1909. Originally a spin-off of the American F. W. Woolworth company (now Foot Locker), Woolworths UK became its own entity and enjoyed a familiarity until it collapsed under the recent, harsh economic climate.

Most of the store had been cleared out, unsurprisingly, as most items were going for 70% off retail price. Woolworths is a strange store, which suffered from an identity crisis for most of the last 20 years. It was a cross between a general store, clothing shop, confectioners, newsagents and entertainment shop. Most of the branches were relatively small, and their stock was badly chosen and quite restricted. It's not surprising they weren't doing well.

Nevertheless, it is still shocking to see a chain which maintained such a presence on nearly every high street in the country go bankrupt. Most people of my generation / age seem to have built up nostalgia for Woolworths as one of the only places to find a good Pick 'n Mix sweet selection. Interestingly, for me anyway, the sweets stock was supplied by Candy King, a Nordic company, so isn't affected by any of this. Furthermore, as you can see in the below picture, the shop's fixtures and shelving were for sale. The Candy King containers, however, weren't.

So, that's it. I didn't buy anything, after all. Out of the 807 branches throughout the country, 200 have already closed. The rest will be shut by the 5 January.

Read a picture-filled history of Woolworths at the BBC here.


Anonymous said...

Lets hope it reopens as a Marks and Spencers and kick starts the regeneration of area that at the moment literatly stinks!

Anonymous said...

We used to have a Marks and Spencers. It was where Peacocks and Argos are now...

Tom said...

Marks & Spencer!!! Regeneration??!!!
That's exactly the kind of middle class bullshit that is killing areas like Peckham. While these areas remain cheap to live they support large artistic communities and activist groups. Regeneration simply means that London's affluent, upwardly mobile class can have their slice of gritty reality while living in a gated apartment block and shopping at faceless chains like Marks & fucking Spencers. Shame on You!!!