Alworths comes to Llandudno
Well, that’s a coincidence. Having blogged about the former Woolworths in Llandudno just a couple of days ago, Alworths has announced today that it will be taking over the site for its 11th store – and its first in Wales.
Having been occupied by a discount book store (Publishers Book Clearance) from April last year until just a few days ago, the Mostyn Street premises will reopen as Alworths on 13 August – earlier, it would seem, than the unofficially revealed new Alworths stores in Hertford and Tiverton.
I’ve made a bit of a habit lately of rumbling Alworths’ store plans ahead of the official announcements – probably to the despair of the lovely PR people – so all credit to MD Andy Latham and his team for getting one over me with this latest news!
The only whiff I got ahead of time was somebody finding Soult’s Retail View yesterday via a search for ‘Alworths Llandudno’ (which naturally piqued my curiosity), coupled with an awareness that the Llandudno site was now vacant again.
Interestingly, just like the new Llandudno shop, several of the latest Alworths stores occupy former Woolies units that have temporarily housed other retailers – including those in Forfar and Cupar (previously Pound-Mart), and Hertford (formerly Well Worth It). As well as monitoring the BT Phone Book, it seems I need to keep an eye out for ‘end of lease’ sales as a possible sign of an impending Alworths.
Talking about the Llandudno outlet, Andy Latham rightly flags up that it will be Alworths’ “first coastal store”, and that Alworths will therefore “tailor the ranges accordingly”. In addition to the usual Alworths ranges, “holiday essentials and a range of beach toys” are promised during peak summer months.
This sounds like a canny move – after all, Llandudno is a vibrant and highly attractive seaside resort, that still attracts a great many holidaymakers to enjoy the Great Orme Tramway, the Haulfre Gardens, and the town’s impressive pier. The top end of Mostyn Street has reportedly suffered from the loss of Woolworths, so a store that caters equally for both locals and visitors may be just what’s needed to perk things up again.
Just as Alworths’ press release for the Alloa store was interesting in flagging up its plans to open a further seven stores in Scotland “over time”, the Llandudno announcement reveals ambitious plans for Wales too. Latham reveals that the fledgling chain is “looking at a variety of other sites in both North and South Wales and we are looking to open a minimum of five more Alworths stores in Wales over the next year.”
This inevitably raises the question of where in Wales Alworths might open up next. As we know, many of the old Woolies sites have been snapped up already, including several – among them Barmouth, Cardigan, Chepstow, Porthmadog and Pwllheli – by The Original Factory Shop, a retailer with a product mix not too dissimilar to that of Alworths.
Of the three vacant Woolies sites in Wales that I blogged about a couple of days ago – in Caernarfon, Holyhead and Colwyn Bay – the former would seem the most likely potential location for an Alworths. Colwyn Bay, in contrast, has quite a bit of competition already, including Home Bargains, Instore and Argos in the buzzing Bayview Shopping Centre, and the planned branch of The Original Factory Shop that I mentioned in my earlier post.
When I first blogged about Holyhead back in November, I remarked that it was “just the kind of place where the closure of Woolies has left a really big hole.” I continued: “Though there is a Wilkinson on one of the out-of-town retail parks, I couldn’t spot any department store or good quality variety store in the town centre – just the type of gap that a store like Alworths could hopefully fill in the future.”
With Alworths now making its presence felt in North Wales, we’ll have to wait and see whether Holyhead is indeed part of its future plans.