Woolies On The Web

Although the much-loved U.K. chain crashed with debts of £385 million, the closure of 800 stores and the loss of 30,000 jobs, Woolworths may come back as an online retailer.

David and Frederick Barclay, owners of The Daily Telegraph, have bought the brand to make it part of their Shop Direct Group, which includes other major online stores such as Great Universal and Marshall Ward.

The Woolworths collapse also triggered the collapse of Zavvi, the music retailer. Zavvi relied on EUK, Woolworths’ distribution division.

The Barclays are said to have paid Deloitte, the Woolworths administrator, between £5 million and £10 million for the brand name, according to The Times. The paper said Shop Direct refused to comment on the price.

Within hours of the deal being announced Feb. 2, 20,000 customers registered with the woolworths.co.uk Web site, where they were encouraged to suggest what they would like the store to sell.

“The fondness there is for this business is underlined by the reaction we have had this morning,” said Shop Direct chief exec Mark Newton-Jones, adding that Woolworths is an important part of Britain’s retail heritage.