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Then and now - 10 years since Woolworths shut on Diss high street

PUBLISHED: 16:53 02 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:22 03 January 2019

Woolworths in Diss on Mere Street during the closing down sale in December 2008 before it closed for good. 
Picture: Angela Sharpe

Woolworths in Diss on Mere Street during the closing down sale in December 2008 before it closed for good. Picture: Angela Sharpe

Archant © 2008

There weren't many high street chains as iconic as Woolworths.

Woolworths in Diss on Mere Street during the closing down sale in December 2008 before it closed for good. 
Picture: Angela SharpeWoolworths in Diss on Mere Street during the closing down sale in December 2008 before it closed for good. Picture: Angela Sharpe

So the disappearance of its 807 branches exactly 10 years ago, amid global financial meltdown, was a sad moment for generations who had grown up on its pick ’n’ mix of novelty goods, top 40 singles and home ware.

The collapse of such a famous household name was also seen as a harbinger of the demise of traditional high street shops under the new threat of online retailing.

Woolworths in Diss on Mere Street during the closing down sale in December 2008 before it closed for good. 
Picture: Angela SharpeWoolworths in Diss on Mere Street during the closing down sale in December 2008 before it closed for good. Picture: Angela Sharpe

Originally founded in the USA, Woolworths was a British high street favourite for decades with over 800 branches in the UK, each one selling a vast range of products at reasonable prices and many also housing popular pick ‘n’ mix sweets sections.

Before administrators were called in 2008 after the company racked up around £400 million worth of debt. Roughly 27,000 jobs were lost at the time of its collapse and some 800 stores were closed.

Carpetright took over the former Woolworths in Diss on Mere Street after it closed 10 years ago. They also moved out in 2015 to be replaced by Poundland. Picture: Denise BradleyCarpetright took over the former Woolworths in Diss on Mere Street after it closed 10 years ago. They also moved out in 2015 to be replaced by Poundland. Picture: Denise Bradley

The shutters came down on the Diss branch for the final time after the closing down sale in throughout December 2008 during which administrators tried and failed to find a buyer for the struggling retailer.

But while on many high streets former Woolies stood empty — more than 100 stores once belonging to defunct retailer were still vacant three years after its collapse — in Diss the store on Mere Street was quickly taken over.

Poundland in Diss in the building that was Woolworths until the high street favourite closed 10 years ago. Picture: Simon ParkinPoundland in Diss in the building that was Woolworths until the high street favourite closed 10 years ago. Picture: Simon Parkin

First to move in was Carpetright, the UK’s largest retailer of carpets, flooring and beds. But when they also closed in 2015 the store was taken on by Poundland, the budget retailer that has become the biggest occupant of the old Woolies shops.

• Do you have any memories of Woolworths in Diss? Let us know in the comments below…

Woolworths in Diss on Mere Street during the closing down sale in December 2008 before it closed for good. 
Picture: Angela SharpeWoolworths in Diss on Mere Street during the closing down sale in December 2008 before it closed for good. Picture: Angela Sharpe

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