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‘Woolies’ then and now - ten years since the closures of a high street favourite

PUBLISHED: 15:41 02 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:07 03 January 2019

Woolworths on Rampant Horse Street in Norwich in 1986. The building was bombed in 1942. Woolworths moved out into new premises in St. Stephens in the late 1980s.

Woolworths on Rampant Horse Street in Norwich in 1986. The building was bombed in 1942. Woolworths moved out into new premises in St. Stephens in the late 1980s.

Archant

Ten years ago Woolworths stores across the UK shut down, with branches in towns across Norfolk replaced by discount retailers and fast-food restaurants like Poundland and McDonalds.

The Marks and Spencers store on Rampant Horse Street in Norwich. Woolworths used to trade in the building, which was bombed in 1942.The Marks and Spencers store on Rampant Horse Street in Norwich. Woolworths used to trade in the building, which was bombed in 1942.

There were more than 800 stores in the UK prior to closure.

Originally founded in the USA and sometimes referred to as “Woolies”, the store was a British high street favourite.

However, during the financial crisis in 2008, administrators were called after the company had accumulated around £400 million worth of debt.

Deloitte, an accounting organisation, closed all 807 stores between December 27, 2008 and January 6, 2009.

A boarded-up Woolworths after closure in North Walsham.A boarded-up Woolworths after closure in North Walsham.

Approximately 27,000 people lost their jobs when the 807 stores were closed.

The Norwich store at Rampant Horse Street - which now houses Marks and Spencers - was bombed in 1942 during World War 2.

Beccles ‘Woolies’ Reunion

A reunion is to be held this weekend for former workers at a town’s Woolworths store to mark 10 years since it closed its doors for the final time.

A shop on Market Place in North Walsham. Woolworths used to trade there.A shop on Market Place in North Walsham. Woolworths used to trade there.

The store had stood in the very heart of the town since 1936, but on Tuesday January 6 2009, the Woolworths store in Beccles was among branches all over the country which were forced to close.

At the time the store employed 30 members of staff and was among the best performing branches in the country, but the closure was confirmed after the company entered administration in November 2008.

Three months later, Norwich-based QD Stores moved into the building, and remains there today.

Now, former staff at the store are welcoming past colleagues to the Fox and Hounds, on Ravensmere, Beccles, for a reunion from 1pm until 4pm on Sunday, January 6.

Woolworths on Market Place in Great Yarmouth before it closed in 2009.Woolworths on Market Place in Great Yarmouth before it closed in 2009.

Anyone who worked at Woolworths in Beccles during its 73 year run is welcome, with visitors encouraged to bring photos of their time at the store.

Do you have any memories of Woolies in Norfolk? Let us know in the comments below.

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