Shop Direct to resurrect Woolworths

Home shopping giant Shop Direct Group, the owner of Littlewoods
Direct, Additions, and Marshall Ward, has bought the Woolworths
brand from the administrators for an undisclosed sum. The company
will relaunch Woolworths as an online-only business in the
summer. Shop Direct also acquired Woolworths’ Ladybird children’s
apparel brand. Woolworths’ Chad Valley toy brand had been bought
by Argos parent company Home Retail Group earlier in January.

And it’s not just Woolworths that Shop Direct is driving online.
In late January, the company announced proposals to close its
Crosby, Merseyside, call centre as it continues its
transformation into an online-led business. In a statement Shop
Direct explained that as customers become more confident shopping
online, they are making fewer orders by phone.

Shop Direct has entered into a 90-day consultation period with
1,150 employees, including more than 100 head-office staff and
some support services and fulfilment employees. But chief
executive Mark Newton-Jones said he hopes to be able to relocate
some 250 of the call centre employees to other areas in the

Although the internet now accounts for 56 percent of Shop
Direct’s sales, the company aims to increase that to 70 percent
by 2010 so that it becomes less reliant on printed catalogues. To
that end it is working with ecommerce solutions provider ATG and
partners Spindrift and Conchango to relaunch all nine of its
brands on a new website platform.

Published: 2nd March 2009


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