There’s been a lot of interest in the news that Waitrose is seeking to replace Woolworths at the Angel.
The Gazette and the Tribune have covered the story, so has the Londonist website and there’s even a Facebook group. (One of Ben Kinsella’s last acts was to join it.) I’ve had lots of emails supporting my view that while Waitrose is great, we don’t want to lose our Woolworths.
For a lot of Islington residents, closing Woolworths feels like yet another blow to popular local services for our community, like the closures of post offices and neighbourhood GPs.
Woolworths has something for everyone. Snobs who don’t shop there are missing out. On Sunday I went to the Farmers’ Market after church and bought some prime strawberries. That afternoon, I ate them from a pretty china bowl (from Woolworths). Yesterday I did my washing, carrying it around in my very handy folding laundry basket (also from Woolworths). And I can’t imagine Christmas shopping without it.
I don’t know if we can get them to think again, but I’ve now written to Mark Price, the managing director of Waitrose:
Woolworths & Waitrose in Islington
I am writing to you about your plans to replace our much-loved Woolworths store with a Waitrose and to ask you to think again.
This is not an anti-Waitrose letter. Waitrose is a brand with a high reputation and your existing Islington stores at Nags Head N7 and Whitecross Street EC1 are deservedly popular.
But we do not want to lose our Woolworths. And we don’t think this is the right place for another Waitrose, with Sainsburys and Marks & Spencer so close by.
Since I expressed my views on this, I have been overwhelmed with messages of support from people who think the same way. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the Facebook group that’s been set up.
The press release announcing the plans, says that you are expanding into ‘prime locations’ – Islington, Marylebone, Chiswick and Clapham.
Well, Islington is a lot more mixed that those other areas, the reality is very different from the media image. We are one of the most deprived boroughs in London and a lot of families here depend on stores like Woolworths.
Woolworths is always busy because it provides a lot of goods that Islington families appreciate: popular toys, kids’ clothes, home ware, music and DVDs, all at affordable prices.
With a recession looming, is it really the right time for you to be expanding to a third store here, and for us to lose our Woolworths?
There other shops at Nags Head who benefit from shoppers being attracted from N1 by the Waitrose there. If they shop at the Angel instead, you may still get their business, but other local shops will lose out. Waitrose is a socially-minded organisation, please consider the impact this will have.
Please think again. Continue to invest in your excellent stores at Nags Head and Whitecross Street ; but let us keep our Woolworths at the Angel!
I’ve also posted something similar on Mr Price’s blog on the company website: it’ll be interesting to see if it appears and if so, what response we get.