29 Dec 2008

Woolworths store closures begin

3:12 pm on 29 December 2008

More than 200 Woolworths stores across Britain are to close their doors on Saturday, after 99 years of trading on High Street.

Barring any last-minute rescue, the remaining 600 stores will follow suit by 5 January. Some 27,000 permanent and temporary employees will lose their jobs.

Administrators were called in last month amid mounting debts.

Branches in Prestwick, Liverpool, Llandudno and Gateshead are among those due to shut on Saturday. The rest of the branch closures will be staggered, with another 200 stores shutting on 30 December, 200 on 2 January and the rest on January 5.

Shop windows are displaying a countdown showing how many days are left before stores close. Shoppers are snapping up the last of the bargains from the closing down sales.

The BBC reports it is nearly 100 years since American F W Woolworth opened his first UK store in Liverpool.

Woolworths ran into trouble this year after struggling under the weight of its debt.

Its problems were compounded when it was forced to pay cash while buying goods from suppliers because trade credit insurers were no longer prepared to cover its suppliers.