Thursday, November 27, 2008

Woollies: Nemesis in its own genesis

On Tuesday night on the BBC Six O'Clock news I was expecting the usual manic Robert Peston reactive commentary about Woolworths and MFI going into administration.

Albeit that I was in the bath and could only hear him, he seemed remarkably calm and reserved, choosing his words very carefully.

Although I couldn't see to check, it sounded as though the rolling eyes and usual OTT behaviour were refreshingly absent.

I can only feel great sadness that MFI and Woolworths have gone into administration. That is mixed with enormous sympathy for the staff facing great uncertainty.

I suppose that deep inside me there is a hard-hearted devil who takes the attitude that Woolworths has been on its last legs for years (its founding American counterpart business lost its name and transmogrified into a sports goods chain over ten years ago). A business that started in this country as the "3d and 6d" shop was being undercut at the lower end by the Pound shop and the 99p shop (its nemesis was its own genesis); and at the other end by supermarkets.

But, frankly, on this occasion my over-riding emotion is sympathy for the managers and staff, and prayers that some decent enterprise can be salvaged from what is a huge business and a major landmark in the British high street.

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