Whatever happened to Woolworths?

IT has been the last sad reminder of a much-loved British institution for over two years – but the final empty Woolworths store in north London will be reoccupied this month.

Work has begun on the down-at-heel building and low-budget clothing brand Peacocks is rumoured to be moving in by the end of March.

After the last pick n’ mix sweet was surreptitiously removed and the last cut-price boy band album sold in January 2009, empty Woolworths stores left a scar on 800 high streets up and down the country.

But as other more desirable locales were snapped up and the memory of everyone’s favourite knick-knack store began to fade, the Finchley Road Woolworths continued to lie empty.

The store in Crouch End, which commanded a central location and views of the clock tower, was offloaded even before the company went into administration when, in June 2008, it was sold to Waitrose.

And soon after Woolies moved out and left the floorspace vacant, Waitrose opened its first ever London “convenience” shop on the site – creating 70 jobs and bringing the supermarket toll on the high street to four.

At the same time, the huge Woolworths on Edgware Road also became a Waitrose mega-store. But in Muswell Hill, the Woolworths there has stayed truer to its roots with a 99p store opening up and selling similar items.

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The opening of the shop on the Broadway was marked by a drama after a fight broke out between a security guard and a group of teenagers. Shoppers were locked in for 15 minutes until the police arrived.

Archway has become home to one of the most prolific occupiers of the Woolworths shells – Iceland.

The frozen food giant took on 67 stores after the company’s collapse.

Only Camden has had a retail outlet snap up its store, with SportsDirect taking up residence on the busy high street.

Peacocks has so far opened up in 12 old Woolworths stores including Camberwell, Dover and Sheffield.