ONE OF Dorchester’s ‘flagship stores’ is set to close its doors.
Wellchester has announced it is shutting up shop three years after it was opened and has launched a closing down sale.
Store manager Claire Robertson, a former Woolworths Saturday girl, attracted national headlines when she re-opened the former Woolworths store as an independent store and radio DJ Chris Evans officially opened the new shop.
It was originally opened as Wellworths with Ms Robertson employing 20 former Woolworths staff but she was forced to change the name due to limitations imposed by Woolworths’ former owners, officially taking on the name of Wellchester in September last year.
Ms Robertson left Wellchester last month to set up her own consultancy business advising other aspiring retailers.
General manager of the store Robert Power said he could not reveal why the store was closing but was keen to thank all those that had supported the shop.
He said: “The only thing I can say is to thank the customers, staff and suppliers for their help over the last three years.”
Mr Power said he could not confirm an exact date when the store was to close but expects it to be some time in August.
Director of the Dorchester BID (Business Improvement District) Phil Gordon expressed sadness as seeing Wellchester preparing to close.
He said: “I’m very disappointed and from what I understand the business was going well so I suspect there are other reasons that have caused the owners of the business to take this step.
“It’s very sad and a huge shame – it’s one of our flagship stores that has done very well while it’s been there.”
Mr Gordon said he would try and take some positives from the fact that a number of formerly empty South Street shops were being brought back into use and he didn’t expect the Wellchester premises to stay empty for long.
He said: “I suspect it will be repopulated pretty quickly.”
THE RISE AND FALL OF A SHOPPING PIONEER
• January 2009 – Dorchester’s Woolworths store becomes one of 800 stores to close nationwide after the collapse of the Woolworths chain
• February 2009 – Former Woolworths Saturday girl Claire Robertson announces she has received the backing to reopen the store as Wellworths, employing 20 former Woolworths staff
• March 2009 – Crowds and the media pack out the store at the official opening of Wellworths with Radio Two DJ Chris Evans
• April 2009 – Hour-long documentary How Woollies Became Wellies: One Woman’s Fight For The High Street screened on BBC1, later the same months Claire is named runner-up in the ‘Champion of England’ competition to recognise unsung heroes
• June 2009 – The store welcomes its 100,000th customer
• March 2010 – Wellworths celebrates its first anniversary
• October 2010 – Wellworths announces it will be changing its name to Wellchester
• September 2011 – The store officially begins life as Wellchester and moves into e-commerce
• June 2012 – Manager Claire leaves Wellchester to set up her own business
• July 2012 – Store announces closing down sale