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Another Old Helensburgh Picture

I found this one on the Helensburgh Heritage Site.

It dates this one circa 1960 but judging by the cars it’s more like 1970.


What was the name of the hardware shop on the corner of Clyde Street and Colquhoun Street? (Not TG Allan – it is next door).

Woolies – One Big Domino

I notice from The Times that Peter Mandelson has put pressure on Woolies’ bankers ( a subsiduary of Barclays) to be more patient about the situation. One can see the reasoning here. If Woolworths and its 30,000 jobs falls, then it will set a precedent and the domino effect will be given clearance for hundreds of similar retail basket cases (JJB et al) to fall in the new year.

The bottom line is though that Woolworths at the point its shares were suspended were worth only £18m whilst their debt was £385. The other point to consider is that if the government continue to intervene to help individual businesses it ceases to become a free market. What will the EU say? or is the EU fucked too? or will the EU have to radically revise its thinking on such things over the coming months and years?

Staring Into the Abyss

Consider this. Woolworths made 90% (widely reported figure) of its annual profit over Christmas. Four weeks prior to Christmas a saviour couldn’t be found for the company. Woolies, founded in 1909, had survived the Great Depression, two world wars and several recessions, but even with a price tag of just £1 for its 820 stores, there was no way back from the Crash of 2008.

This I’m afraid is only the beginning. After the (much reduced) Christmas rush, creditors and banks will be hovering over 323 of Britain’s best known retail names. Insolvency experts Begbies Traynor have compiled a list which indicates that this number have more than a 70% risk of failing before the end of January.

Of course this is not simply the result of a few months bad sales figures. Nor is it a result of media doom and gloom on the subject. The seeds of this crisis germinated about two years ago. No-one heeded the warning signs.

A 2.5% cut in VAT and tinkering with National Insurance in this situation is the equivalent of buying a new suit for a critically ill hospital patient or putting lipstick on a corpse.

Woolworths R.I.P?

Woolworths. Those shops often housed in art-deco buildings, a ubiquitous retailer. I have been a customer of Woolworths for nearly half a century. I used to buy fishing stuff from them when I was a wee boy, when the floor was polished wood and the goods were sold from large rectangular counter/gondola displays. Then when I was a bit older it was packs of five cassettes or the latest album or single. Even now hardly a week goes by without my visiting Woolies in Dumbarton or Helensburgh for a light bulb or a CD or a screwdriver or maybe some pic ‘n’ mix. From a local perspective, Woolworths is almost as much a part of Helensburgh and Dumbarton as the Rivers Clyde or Leven. I’m sure this kind of association will be typical from towns accross the UK. They tended to occupy the same site in towns, often refurbishing, rarely expanding or relocating.

And now the following news from the Times:

“Woolworths, the iconic 99-year-old six-penny retail chain, is on the verge of collapsing into corporate bankruptcy despite desperate last-ditch government efforts to save it.

The board of Woolworths plc, believing it had exhausted all its other options, met at 6pm at the retailer’s central London headquarters to vote on a move that threatens thousands of British jobs.

Here they will agree to put two of Wooworths’ subsidiaries – its 815 store high street arm and its DVD distribution business EUK, which between them employ nearly 30,000 people – into corporate bankruptcy or administration.”

The Death of Capitalism? Part 4

Insolvency specialists Begbies Traynor have announced that 323 of the UK’s retailers could go bust within the next few months. Woolworths have stopped paying their business rates and there is fevered speculation about their future. JJB Sports have had insurance for insolvency withdrawn on the back of disastrous sales figures. The report says that companies who have failed to diversify and those with weak online operations will be worst affected.

In other news West Dunbartonshire Council are about to grant permission considering an application for seven retail units, two to be occupied by JJB Sports, this morning. The units are on an out of town site and from the Council’s own figures will take a further 7% of trade away from Dumbarton High Street.

West Dunbartonshire Council are ‘commited to the regeneration’ of Dumbarton town centre.

Edit: Following late objections the matter has been continued for another month.