The fight to be Woolworths’ heir
Just a quick post this evening, but I wanted to flag up a well-written and interesting article by Kiran Stacey in yesterday’s Financial Times, entitled “The fight to be Woolworths’ heir”.
The piece covers some of the same themes as my own blog posts about Wellworths, Alworths and Shop Direct’s Woolworths brand, but gives some new and interesting insights into the operation of each business through talking to Wellworths’ Claire Robertson, Alworths’ Andy Latham and Shop Direct’s Matthew Hardcastle.
Notably, the article tackles the issue of the three retailers’ similar names, and – contrary to what has been reported previously – suggests that Shop Direct is no more happy with Wellworths than it is with Alworths:
We’re not happy with what Alworths is doing. They are trading on the old Woolworths name and brand. Meanwhile, Wellworths is trying to be Woolworths in all but name, and we are not very happy with that situation either.
Certainly, it looks like the tension between Shop Direct and the other ‘new Woolies’ is not going to vanish anytime soon.
Meanwhile, I’ve noticed that Alworths has launched its website at http://www.alworths.com/ in the past few days. The colour scheme is, arguably, a little on the psychedelic side, but the content and overall impression is very good, conveying a distinctive brand personality that is bright, friendly, fun, local, and family-oriented.
The ‘Rate your visit’ form and the opportunity to nominate an Alworths staff member for a ‘Star Service Award’ are also really nice touches. Similarly, though there are no clues as to where Alworths’ future stores will be, visitors to the site are invited to ‘nominate a location’, to help Alworths achieves its goal of opening “20+ stores” during 2010, and its ultimate expansion “towards a chain of 200 stores”.
I’ve been really impressed with Alworths’ marketing and PR efforts to date. The company seems to have been quite adept at celebrating the qualities that people most liked about Woolworths – such as the service, value and range – while avoiding the traps that ultimately contributed to Woolies’ demise, and creating a personality that is fresh and new.
I wish the business well, and look forward to seeing how it develops over the coming months. Up here in the North East, perhaps I could nominate Chester-le-Street as somewhere that “a variety chain with stores at the heart of the High Street” would be likely to do well?