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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

Harris: “We believe, long term, UGO has a good future”

UGO offers leaflet

UGO offers leaflet

Interview headlines:

  • UGO stores need to “trade better” but are not “at danger level”
  • IT and ordering issues will be addressed
  • More UGO stores planned – new Leeds store “in negotiations”
  • Own-brand bakery products to be stocked at UGO imminently
  • Admits that “full weekly shop” idea was a mistake – “fine-tuning” required on product and price
  • Main plan now is to “bed down” UGO

The first part of my interview with Arthur … Continue Reading

Haldanes’ Arthur Harris interviewed: “I’ll carry on the action against the Co-op”

Arthur Harris, Haldanes CEO

Arthur Harris, Haldanes CEO

Interview headlines:

  • Three Haldanes stores could still be saved
  • Harris pledges to carry on his legal action against the Co-op
  • Blames collapse on Co-op’s alleged failure “to come to the table”, but admits some “mistakes” with Haldanes
  • Haldanes estate was losing £100,000 a week
  • Uplift in trade at ex-Haldanes stores converted to UGO – more would have followed

As boss of the collapsed Haldanes supermarket chain, which finally … Continue Reading

Woolies photo updates from South Shields, Wallsend, Jarrow and North Shields

Former Woolworths, South Shields (10 Nov 2010). Photograph by Graham Soult

Former Woolworths, South Shields (10 Nov 2010)

While out and about on my recent travels, I’ve revisited – often just in passing – some of the former Tyneside Woolies sites that I’ve blogged about in the past. Though the number of empty sites is now dwindling, there are still a few interesting updates to report upon.

There’s no apparent movement on the empty half of South Shields’ former Woolworths … Continue Reading

Alworths lined up for non-Woolies site in Alloa?

Alworths fascia. Photograph by Graham Soult

Alworths fascia

Just a week after its first two Scottish stores opened in Forfar and Cupar, the variety store chain Alworths is now “recruiting for enthusiastic, customer focussed individuals to work at its newest store opening in Alloa in July 2010.”

Alloa, in Clackmannanshire, is exactly the type of location that we are getting used to Alworths opening stores in – a small town … Continue Reading

Photos from the 90s – Sheffield’s Castle House Co-op department store

Sheffield Co-op in 1997

I’ve been sorting through some of my old photos recently – for old, read ’1990s’. Very few of them have much interest from a retail point of view, but then it was generally more usual in those days for me to take pictures of historic buildings and attractive landscapes, rather than of shops.

However, I did come across a couple of shots of Castle House, the now-closed Sheffield Co-op department store in Angel Street (click on the images to view … Continue Reading

Who or what is Clas Ohlson?

Clas Ohlson sign

With so many old Woolworths sites being taken over by familiar high street names and pound shops, it’s nice when the new arrival is something a little more interesting. So I was pleased to read that the Swedish “modern hardware brand” Clas Ohlson is going to be opening up in the former Woolies in Kingston upon Thames, and is also … Continue Reading

Vergo Retail – the saviour of unloved Co-op department stores?

Co-op Department Store, Great Yarmouth, prior to Vergo Retail’s takeover. Photograph by Stephen McKay

In the last couple of weeks, one interesting news story that has been easy to miss is the takeover of the East of England Co-op’s department store business by Vergo Retail.

Vergo Retail, as you may be aware, is the Liverpool-based operation headed by David Thompson that, in 2007, rescued Lewis’s of Liverpool, Joplings of Sunderland and Robbs of Hexham from the … Continue Reading