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Charles Clinkard Q&A: “Maintaining good relationships with suppliers is key”

Charles Clinkard store in Byres Road, Glasgow (7 Dec 2012). Photograph by Graham Soult

Charles Clinkard store in Byres Road, Glasgow (7 Dec 2012)

Think of a great northern city, and the chances are that you’ll bring to mind one of the great northern retailers that’s based there.

Bradford has Morrisons and Leeds has Asda (and was the birthplace of M&S), while the North West is awash with big retail firms, from the Manchester-based Co-operative Group to Liverpool’s cluster of well-known chains that includes B&M, TJ Morris (owner of Home Bargains), TJ … Continue Reading

Old Woolies fascia exposed as Byker Wetherspoon’s readies for October opening

Exposed 1970s Woolworths fascia at new Byker Wetherspoon pub (28 Aug 2013). Photograph by Graham Soult

Exposed 1970s Woolworths fascia at new Byker Wetherspoon pub (28 Aug 2013)

The Newcastle suburb of Byker will gain a welcome addition when its new Wetherspoon pub – … Continue Reading

Tracking down Darlington’s original Woolworths – 73 years after it relocated

Darlington's Woolworths site from 1940 to 2008 (3 May 2012). Photograph by Graham Soult

Darlington’s Woolworths site from 1940 to 2008 (3 May 2012)

Never one to let a good Woolworths anniversary pass me by, today – 20 September 2013 – represents 73 years since Darlington’s Woolworths store relocated from its original premises, opened on 27 September 1913, to what would become its more familiar location at 12-18 Northgate.

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North East stores invade London as Metro Outlet heads to Croydon’s ex-Allders

Metro Outlet, Gateshead (11 Jul 2013). Photograph by Graham Soult

Metro Outlet, Gateshead (11 Jul 2013)

In the same month that Middlesbrough-based furniture institution Barker and Stonehouse has opened its first London store, in Battersea, it’s been revealed that another firm with a former Boro connection and a current Gateshead one – the discount department store Metro Outlet – is to open in the iconic former Allders store in Croydon, … Continue Reading

Eighty-five years on: tracking down the ex-Woolworths in Stafford and Stoke

Original former Woolworths (now River Island), Stafford (3 Feb 2013). Photograph by Graham Soult

Original former Woolworths (now River Island), Stafford (3 Feb 2013)

An anniversary is always as good an excuse as any to write a Woolworths-related blog post, and if you were around 85 years ago today – on 23 June 1928 – you could have enjoyed the opening of not one but two new Woolies stores in Staffordshire: store #320 in Stafford, and #324 … Continue Reading

Ex-Woolies spotting in Inverness, Dingwall and Blairgowrie

Soon-to-be Wetherspoon's (former Woolworths), Blairgowrie (11 May 2013). Photograph by Graham Soult

Soon-to-be Wetherspoon’s (former Woolworths), Blairgowrie (11 May 2013)

If you like looking at shops and high streets, going on holiday to north west Sutherland, in Scotland – as I did earlier this month – isn’t necessarily the best choice.

The scenery is incredible, of course, but Spars and Costcutters are about as exciting as it gets retail-wise. For someone used to living in a city, the idea of the nearest proper high … Continue Reading

Hunting for long-gone Woolies stores in Harrow and Sudbury Hill

Former Woolworths (now Iceland), Sudbury Hill (10 Feb 2012). Photograph by Graham Soult

Former Woolworths (now Iceland), Sudbury Hill (10 Feb 2012)

It’s been great to see a new Woolworths-related history blog appear this week, courtesy of longstanding former Woolies staff member Stuart Kew.

His blog, Forgotten London Woolworths, does exactly what it implies, visiting “some … Continue Reading

Now Lincolnshire Co-op is to exit non-food – but a “bright future” under new ownership is promised

Lincolnshire Co-op website (30 Jan 2013). Photograph by Graham Soult

Lincolnshire Co-op website (30 Jan 2013)

Just one week after Midlands Co-op announced the closure of its department stores, another Midlands-based consumer co-op – the Lincolnshire Co-operative – has revealed that it too is to exit non-food.

However, where Midlands Co-op’s … Continue Reading

As eight Midlands Co-op department stores face closure, what might the future hold?

Co-op department store, Chesterfield (10 Nov 2011). Photograph by Graham Soult

Co-op department store, Chesterfield (10 Nov 2011)

Midlands Co-op has become the latest co-operative society to exit non-food, with its announcement today that eight Fashion & Home department stores are to close within six months.

Most of the affected stores are in the East Midlands, including five full-line department stores – badged as Fashion & Home – … Continue Reading

New Jacques Vert concession launched as Tamworth Co-op’s department store looks to the future

New Jacques Vert Group concession at Tamworth Co-op (21 Dec 2012). Photograph by Graham Soult

New Jacques Vert Group concession at Tamworth Co-op (21 Dec 2012)

Tamworth shoppers now have access to a raft of Jacques Vert Group womenswear brands, following the opening of a new upmarket outlet concession in the town’s Co-op department store last Saturday (22 December).

As well as the eponymous Jacques Vert brand, the first floor department also features the group’s long-established Planet, … Continue Reading

Fifties postcard confirms location of original Alnwick Woolworths

Detail of late 1950s Valentine's postcard of Bondgate Within, Alnwick

Detail of late 1950s Valentine’s postcard of Bondgate Within, Alnwick

Back in April I blogged about the apparent location of Alnwick’s original Woolworths, where the chain traded for the first fifteen years of its 55-year stint in the town. As I reported then, I was “yet to find any photographic evidence of … Continue Reading

Photo blog: ten shop fascias that time – and the retailers – forgot

Marks & Spencer, St Helens (10 May 2012). Photograph by Graham Soult

Marks & Spencer, St Helens (10 May 2012)

Whether it’s long-forgotten remnants of departed retailers, or 1980s fascias that chains have forgotten to update, there’s something satisfying about coming across bits of retail heritage in … Continue Reading

Cardiff city centre’s lost Woolworths

Former Woolworths (now BHS), Queen Street, Cardiff (17 Aug 2012). Photograph by Graham Soult

Former Woolworths (now BHS), Queen Street, Cardiff (17 Aug 2012)

Paying my first visit to Cardiff in twenty years last week, I couldn’t resist tracking down the city centre’s former Woolworths locations – despite the torrential rain making conditions for photography somewhat challenging.

Cardiff still had several Woolworths branches outside the centre at the time of Woolworths’ collapse, in Cowbridge Road East (store … Continue Reading

New-concept Wilko opens in Crawley’s ex-TJ Hughes store

Promotion for Crawley store on Wilkinson website (15 Aug 2012)

Promotion for Crawley store on Wilkinson website (15 Aug 2012)

Wilkinson’s “newest and most exciting concept store” has opened at 14-26 The Broadway in Crawley this morning (15 August).

Designed to “offer the community a more modern and interactive shopping experience”, the new store further evolves the modern look that Wilkinson has been rolling out across its estate, such as … Continue Reading

The discount retailers dominating Suffolk’s ex-Woolworths sites

Former Woolworths (now Peacocks), Stowmarket (2 Aug 2012). Photograph by Graham Soult

Former Woolworths (now Peacocks), Stowmarket (2 Aug 2012)

Alongside its new-look Clintons, the Suffolk town of Stowmarket seems to have come off fairly well from recent retail administrations.

Earlier this year, its ex-Woolworths managed to avoid also becoming an ex-Peacocks, while its … Continue Reading

Reflections on Spennymoor High Street, 85 years to the day from Woolworths’ arrival

Site of original Woolworths(?), High Street, Spennymoor (5 Jan 2012). Photograph by Graham Soult

Site of original Woolworths(?), High Street, Spennymoor (5 Jan 2012)

I suspect it will have passed the townsfolk by, but today – 13 August – is the 85th anniversary of Woolworths opening in the County Durham town of Spennymoor in 1927. However, the location of the new shop (store #278) wasn’t where you might think.

In previous blogs, I’ve written about how the Woolworths … Continue Reading

Fleetwood’s former and phantom Woolworths

Former Woolworths (now BrightHouse), Fleetwood (10 May 2012). Photograph by Graham Soult

Former Woolworths (now BrightHouse), Fleetwood (10 May 2012)

As I mentioned earlier, I paid a long-overdue visit to the North West last week, visiting smaller towns such as Prescot and St Helens as well as major centres such as Liverpool, Wigan, Preston, Lancaster and Blackpool. It’s certainly given me plenty of inspiration and … Continue Reading

Cirencester’s ex-Woolworths: a window on the rise of discounters

Former Woolworths (now Poundland and Mountain Warehouse), Cirencester (13 Nov 2011). Photograph by Graham Soult

Former Woolworths (now Poundland and Mountain Warehouse), Cirencester (13 Nov 2011)

I often talk about how the fate of ex-Woolworths stores provides a fascinating ‘window’ on the changing high street, and the ex-Woolies in Cirencester (store #394) – which opened on 26 April 1930, 82 years ago today – is no exception.

Looking at the new occupants of former Woolworths gives us a flavour of … Continue Reading

A Woolworths staff photo from 1938 – but can you identify the location?

Postcard of unknown Woolworths shopfront, 2 April 1938

Postcard of unknown Woolworths shopfront, 2 April 1938

The last time I shared an old photograph of an unidentified Woolworths store, Soult’s Retail View readers were quick to identify it as the original Woolies on Aberdeen’s Union Street (store #228) – a store that closed in 1990 but whose former premises still survive.

This latest teaser is a … Continue Reading

Woolies spotting in Somerset: a cinema, a bank, a hardware store and a fashion discounter

Former Woolworths (now HomeFayre), Crewkerne (5 Oct 2011). Photograph by Graham Soult

Former Woolworths (now HomeFayre), Crewkerne (5 Oct 2011)

With a visit to Taunton on the schedule for later this month, it seems an appropriate time to write about the Somerset ex-Woolworths stores that I’ve already visited.

Back in August, I blogged about the stores that I’d checked out in North … Continue Reading