Sixteen Years On
Gone but not forgotten
We are now approaching the sixteenth anniversary of Woolworths' collapse during the credit crunch. The lights went out over Christmas 2008, putting 30,000 people from the High Street stores and the sister company Entertainment UK Limited out of work. Weeks later, the bankers who withdrew the Group's financing during peak trading had to turn to the Government for a massive bailout themselves. Some of the premises remain unoccupied to this day.
We've kept WoolworthsReunited on-line all this time to honour those fallen colleagues, and as a permanent thank-you to the businesses that found work for our members at a difficult time. More than 5,000 colleagues got new jobs in other High Street stores thanks to the adverts that you can see preserved all these years later on the site. As the UK enters its latest financial crisis it seems many other old established names may soon be joining Woolies on the non-stop service to Obliviion Station (if there's not a rail strike that day).
News of Woolworths' demise was broken by a younger but very recognisable Huw Edwards (left) on BBC1 Television's Six O'Clock News as the dominant story on Wednesday 26 November 2008, just three weeks into the retailer's hundredth year of trading. An insider at the Department of Trade and Industry had shared the news with the UK's leading broadcaster's Business Editor, Robert Peston - now the politics guru of ITV and ITV News, before telling the Board of Directors of the Company, let alone any of the thirty thousand staff. Executives at headquarters gathered round a TV, or tuned in to the radio to hear of their fate, some after more than forty years loyal service. None will ever forget the terrible way that the news was broken. See how the BBC broke the news on-line an hour after Robert Peston's on-screen bombshell,
A Tribunal ruled that employees dismissed without notice after Woolworths went into Administration but before 27 December 2008, who had previously been excluded, should receive the Protective Award. The Insolvency Service has written to all of those affected and has arranged payment to those who answered. But bizarrely those who worked in the smallest branches, the toughest jobs of all, were excluded from the payment. Even an appeal by the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) in 2013 was unable to overturn this dreadful decision.
WoolworthsReunited and virtually every man and woman, employed in any capacity by the Company from the Board Room to the Stockroom, would agree that no store should ever have been too small to matter in a David Cameron's so-called big society, all should have been treated the same.
All expected better. Neither Labour, in power at the demise, nor the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, who took the helm in the aftermath of the credit crunch, lifted a finger to help, leaving many former Woolies people deeply cynical about politicians in general ever since.
The wonder, blunder and plunder
The on-line Woolworths Museum has a new look and some new content too. It's faster to search, has new multimedia content and is the perfect way to lose yourself in nostalgia and celebrate happier times.
Why not take a look?