Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Sunday, 28 December 2008

In pictures: The Woolworths story

Woolworths 1918-20

After opening its first store in Liverpool in 1909, Woolworths' system of individual counters for various goods proved popular and the store was well-established by the end of World War I.

Woolworths store in Holborn, London, in 1925

Early stores operated on a "threepence or sixpence" concept, with all items sold for one of the two prices

Inside a London Woolworths store during the 1930s

The chain's format proved a hit with shoppers, and it quickly became known as 'Woolies'. The nickname was to stick throughout its existence.

January sales at Woolworths' Leeds store in the 1950s

Toys were a staple of Woolworths' business as its popularity soared. In the 1950s, shoppers flocked to its January sales.

Boarded up Woolworths store in Plymouth, 1954.

In the years immediately after the Second World War, some stores - like here in Plymouth - remained boarded up. But post-war austerity did not stop the sale of another Woolies favourite - Easter eggs.

Woolworths' Kirkby store in 1967

By the 1960s, Woolworths was a formidable high street presence. Its status secured it a place in the modern shopping centres of new towns like Kirkby, in the north-west.

Chairman of the Decimal Currency Board Lord Fiske at Woolworths in the Strand, London, in 1971

Decimalisation may have changed the prices in 1971 but, as chairman of the Decimal Currency Board Lord Fiske found out, it did not affect Woolies' range of stock

Shopper buys pic 'n' mix

After the 1980s, while sales of many goods dropped in the face of growing competition, pic 'n' mix remained a favourite with customers.

Shopper leaves the sale at a London store

The economic downturn of 2008 brought about Woolworths' downfall. It entered administration and immediately launched huge discounts which resulted in the chain's biggest ever trading day.

Woolworths in Ballymena, Antrim, closes for the final time

Despite the sales, the administrators have so far been unable to find a buyer and the shutters were brought down for the final time on the first tranche of stores on Saturday.

Farewell messages at Woolworths in New Malden, Surrey

Shoppers remained sentimental about the Woolies brand. But their messages of goodwill were not sufficiently matched by spending to keep the stores open.

Staff comfort each other on the last day of trading at Woolworths, Portobello Road, London

Woolworths staff have been praised for their professionalism in the face of redundancy. For many, it is the emotional end of a long association with the store.

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