Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Ex-Woolworths store is reopened

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Large crowds watched Chris Evans opens Wellworths

A Woolworths store which closed when the firm collapsed has been reopened under the name Wellworths.

Claire Robertson, 34, has recruited 20 of her former Woolworths colleagues to work at "Wellies", which DJ Chris Evans opened in Dorchester at 1000 GMT.

The store was one of 815 closed after Woolworths went into administration in November with debts of 385m.

Miss Robertson, the ex-manager of the branch, won the financial backing of a consortium to reopen the Dorset store.

"It gives people a bit of inspiration to go out and do something new or change direction especially in these gloomy economic times when all the news is depressing," Miss Robertson said.

She worked her way up from a Saturday girl in Yeovil, Somerset, to manage the Dorchester store for the past five years.

She said: "Dorchester was always a profitable store. The sales were always good even though Woolworths as a company wasn't profitable.

"It is a prime location and really left a hole in the high street. Plus there isn't a lot of competition for a general retailer here."

The mother-of-two from Somerset gained the financial backing of a consortium led by the Ireland-based owner of the premises.

Staff will be wearing new navy and sky-blue uniforms when the store opens, and the familiar red and white Woolworths sign is being replaced by a blue, white and light orange Wellworths motif.

"The landlord came up with the name while we were brainstorming," she said.

"It's a bit cheeky but it has captured people's imaginations. I think it is already nicknamed Wellies."

The store has pick 'n' mix but will not stock CDs, DVDs or children's clothing.

Instead it has new lines, including a craft and pet section, and has a stronger focus on products made by local firms, including one which makes wooden toys.

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