Plea for Woolies workers after chain collapsesBy Lucy Allen
December 05, 2008
Workers at Bracknell’s Woolworths store face a bleak new year after the company went into administration.
Around 20 jobs could be lost in the town after the company collapsed under £385m of debt.
But the store in Broadway will stay open until after Christmas, which will come as a relief to the many concerned shoppers who have been phoning the shop since news of its troubles were announced.
Staff at the store would not comment to The Standard yesterday.
But mayor of Bracknell Town Marc Brunel-Walker said: “I hope that somebody steps forward to buy some or all of Woolworths and safeguards it for the future.
“It has been part of our high street culture for years.
“We have bought school uniforms in there and presents for children, and lots of household stuff when we moved house.
“It would be dreadfully sad if it closed down.” Cllr Brunel-Walker was also not keen to see a unit the size of Woolworths standing empty in Bracknell. He said: “Along with the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership, everybody is very committed to making and keeping Bracknell town centre a place to come and shop.
“It would be a shame if one of the iconic brands closed down.”
He added that if the worst came to the worst, maybe other retailers could step in to help stranded Woolies staff.
“The staff in the Bracknell store are friendly and helpful.
“I hope that if there are other employers in the town looking for staff, they could apply to the administrators or the manager there and see if they may have jobs to fit them.”
Shelagh Pile, who sits on Bracknell Forest Council, was nostalgic for the Woolies of yesteryear.
She said: “I could shed a tear over what it was.
“They used to have separate counters for everything with two or three girls behind them, so there were no long queues.
“I used to buy biscuits there, and when I was a young girl I remember their scent, called Midnight in Paris.
“You used to be able to park at the back of the Woolworths in Bracknell and go in the back.
“But it’s all changed, and it’s not the store it used to be.”
Deloitte and Touche were appointed as joint administrators to Woolworths and Entertainment UK, the wholesale division of the group.
Woolworths has 800 stores and four distribution centres employing around 25,000 staff.
Neville Kahn, reorganisation services partner at Deloitte, said: “Woolworths has suffered a number of cash flow problems. Strenuous efforts over recent weeks to keep these companies going have unfortunately failed and the businesses are now looking to be rescued under the administration process.
“The companies were placed into administration on Thursday morning and will continue to trade.
“Stores will remain open past Christmas and employees in store will be paid.”
Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Theo Paphitis is among several people expressing an interest in the stores.