Alworths confirms Alloa opening, and heads to Hertford and Tiverton
Following on from my blog post about Alworths opening in the Clackmannanshire town of Alloa, it has now been confirmed that the new store will open this week, on Wednesday 21 July. The site, at 49 Shillinghill, was occupied by Ethel Austin, prior to that retailer’s collapse earlier this year.
Quoting the MD Andy Latham, Alworths’ press release about the store opening highlights the point made in my earlier blog about it being the first store in the chain not to be located in an ex-Woolworths site:
“Opening our tenth store will be a significant milestone for us. We’ve always maintained that we were not limiting our store search to just ex-Woolies sites… Our priority, as always, is to find good sites in traditional market towns and to be a local department store on the high street.”
Like the nine other Alworths stores to date, the Alloa shop will stock “a mix of branded toys, sweets, homeware, stationery, entertainment products, seasonal goods and garden items”, as well as offering “a large selection of pic ‘n’ mix along with party accessories, cards and wrap.”
Given a blank canvas rather than the shell of a former Woolies, it will be interesting to see how the interior of the Alloa Alworths turn out.
This picks up on the point I made in my earlier review of the Amersham store, following my visit back in May, when I remarked that “as the Alworths chain expands further – and particularly if it starts taking over shops that were not formerly Woolworths – it will be interesting to see how it develops its own, more confident store interior style.”
The Alloa store now gives Alworths that opportunity to do something different and distinctive with its shopfit, defining it as a modern retailer with its own identity and vision, rather than one that some might perceive as harking back to the past.
The news release also confirms Alworths’ plans to open a further seven stores in Scotland “over time”, and its intention to have 22 sites across the UK by the end of 2010. With the chain set to have ten stores by the end of July, it suggests that new shops will be opening at the rate of two or three a month for the rest of the year – a similar rate of expansion, in fact, to when Woolworths was at the height of its growth in the 1920s.
We already know where the 11th store will be, and have a strong hint as to the location of the 12th. The arrival of a new Alworths in Hertford was reported a few days ago in the local press, with the customary job ad on the Peopletime website giving an opening date of August. The store will occupy the former Woolworths in Maidenhead Street – pictured here in happier times – which until this month housed a Well Worth It store. The latter is apparently moving to the nearby town of Hoddesdon instead, but is not, as far as I can tell, any relation to the Wallsend shop of the same name.
Though there is no official confirmation yet, the 12th Alworths will, reportedly, be in Tiverton in Devon. Many thanks to the eagle-eyed John, who let me know that “according to the BT Phone Book, [Alworths] have had the telephone put on at the old Woolworths premises in Fore St, Tiverton, Devon.”
Sure enough, a quick search of BT’s online Phone Book brings up details of the yet-to-be-announced Tiverton store. Presumably, however, no-one will be there to answer the phone for a few weeks yet…