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Social media frenzy falls flat after news of Woolworths return is denied

Written by on 27/10/2020

It is a gloomy time in the UK with the COVID pandemic refusing to weaken and the days getting shorter as we head into winter.

So when a thread of tweets appeared, announcing that Woolworths was returning to the country’s high streets, it sparked hopes that Christmas could be saved after all.

The tweet from @UKWoolworths claimed to be “here to save 2020”, adding: “Woolworths is coming back to your high street as a physical store!

“A couple of legal things to get sorted but we’re full steam ahead at Woolworths HQ.”

Fans responded to the news with nostalgic tweets fondly remembering digging for their favourite sweets at the store’s beloved pic ‘n’ mix.

In its heyday, the high street institution had sold goods including toys, homeware, and garden supplies.

But it closed its 815 stores between 2008 and 2009, laden with debt and left behind in a rapidly-evolving retail world.

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Some 27,000 people were left jobless and in the following years, many of the store spaces were bought by discount chains.

A general view of inside a Woolworths store in south west London
Image: Is the famous pic ‘n’ mix returning? It seems unlikely

The thought of its revival – apparently in the form of three trial stores late next year – brought joy to many.

There was just one problem – it might not be quite that simple.

Woolworths Ltd is now a dormant company registered at the same address as its owners – The Very Group.

Very, formerly Shop Direct, owns the trademark – so even if the pick n mix favourite did return, it could not use the name Woolworths.

A closer look at the @UKWoolworths Twitter account revealed that its first tweet had been less than 24 hours earlier and the account was not verified by Twitter like most well-known businesses.

The link it gave as its website could not be reached, with attempts only resulting in news that its “server IP address could not be found”.

This will be your Woolsworths. Strange account says Woolworths is returning next year but was it true?

The account’s tweets were also clumsy – in one tweet the store was twice called “Woolsworths”.

Why is the "Woolworths" website down? A suspicious Twitter account says Woolworths is returning.

When someone asked why the website was broken, the reply blamed a “huge rise in activity”, adding that Very’s website was not affected “as we are two desperate companies”, instead of separate companies.

A spokesperson for The Very Group told Sky News: “We own the Woolworths trademark in the UK. The Twitter account UKWoolworths is not connected to The Very Group.”

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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