The Wellchester logo 2010–2012
|Stationery, Confectionery, Frames, DIY, Toys, Seasonal, Household|
|Headquarters||Dorchester, Dorset, England|
Claire Robertson (2009–2012)
|Owner||Wellchester Stores Ltd.|
Number of employees
January 2009 saw the closure of the final 200 Woolworths stores in the UK, including the Dorchester branch. At the time of closure, Claire Robertson was the store manager and after the closure of her branch, she decided to open her own version of the store in the former Woolworths premises Robertson secured investment for her new business and planned to open her store with 22 of the 25 staff that previously worked at the former Woolworths store, along with one new staff member. BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans officially re-opened the store on 11 March 2009 at 10am.
On 2 April 2009, BBC One aired a documentary entitled How Woolies Became Wellies: One Woman's Fight for the High Street, following Robertson's journey from the closing of Woolworths to the opening of Wellworths.
Weeks after the store opened, the store was the subject of significant media coverage from across Europe. Just three months after the opening of the store, Wellworths celebrated its 100,000th customer. Robertson said that she never expected to get through 100,000 so soon after the store's opening day. In August 2009 it was reported that the company was seeking backing to convert and then re-open three more former Woolworths stores under the Wellworths name.
In July 2012, it was announced that the store would be closing in the following month. A closing-down sale went ahead in August, and Poundland applied for planning permission to take over the premises. The Wellchester store finally closed its doors on 18 August.
In April 2010 Faith Footwear Ltd went into administration and 70 stores were closed, more than 1700 staff lost their jobs. Inspired by Claire Robertson's success the Chelmsford branch of Faith was reopened by the staff who used to work in the store on 3 July 2010, the new business is called 'Hope'. In the official press release Store Manager Justina Pay stated: "We were inspired by Claire Robertson and her success in turning her old Dorchester Woolworths store into Wellworths, a great example of someone who has had a massive success from a very sad redundancy. Customers were genuine in their sadness that our stores were closing and were concerned as to where they could buy quality shoes from, we knew we had to 'do a Wellworths' and try and bring it back!"
- How Woolies Became Wellies: One Woman's Fight for the High Street on BBC TV Listings, 03/04/2009
- "The Wonder of Wellworths". Dorset Echo. 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
- "From Woolworths to Wellworths : Woolies shop reborn". This is Money. 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
- "Wellworths of Dorchester, Woolworths and surviving the British Recession". 2009-02-24. Retrieved 2009-02-24.
- European film crews flocking to Wellworths in Dorchester, 26/03/2009
- "Wellworths welcomes 100,000th shopper". Dorset Echo. 2009-06-23. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
- "Riddle of online Woolies chief departure". thisismoney.co.uk. 2009-08-01. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- Wellworths forced to become Wellchester (From Dorset Echo)
- Closing time for Dorchester's Wellchester store (From Dorset Echo)
- Harry Hogger (10 July 2012), "Dorchester store set to close", Daily Echo
- "Poundland to take over Dorchester's Wellchester store". Dorset Echo. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- Finch, Julia (2010-04-22). "Faith shoe chain goes into administration". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
- "Faith Girls Fight Back! Hope is Coming!". Hope Footwear. 2010-06-30. Retrieved 2010-11-07.