Wellworth it

A shop that replaced high street favourite Woolworths in Dorchester is set to make a profit it's first year.

The former Woolworths shop that was reopened by its staff as "Wellworths" after the company collapsed is booming one year after its launch - and is set to expand.

Claire Robertson, the brains behind the rebranding, is now looking for another store to open after the current one did so well in its first year.

The 35-year-old had worked for the company for 18 years was devastated when Woolworths went under and the store she managed was forced to close.

But because she loved her job so much she found the funding, re-hired the staff and opened Wellworths a year ago today.

Today Claire said that "Wellworths has been well worth it" - and confirmed that she is keen on expanding the empire.

The mother-of-two began at Woolworths as a Saturday girl but learned to love the retail industry.

When the whole sector was thrown into turmoil last year during the recession she was determined to carry on.

Claire and her staff will be celebrating their birthday tomorrow night with a party at the shop, which she believes has recorded good profits.

Speaking from the shop in Dorchester's main shopping street, she said: "It's been a lot of hard work, but worth it. "I can't believe it's been a year and I've enjoyed every bit of it. It's the best thing I ever did. We are just compiling the first year's accounts so we don't have the figures yet, but we are very happy at the way it looks especially as we are in a recession. We are looking to open another shop, but we're not quite sure yet. It will be local, probably in Dorset. The reason Wellworths has been a success when Woolworths wasn't is because decisions can be made immediately. We started without doing entertainment, but when customers asked us for CDs and DVDs, we started selling them very soon afterwards. We can change lines and ranges very quickly and can make immediate decisions. We still get novelty customers and tourists visiting us because they had heard about us. Locals are still supporting us - and we're still selling Pick 'n' Mix."

When the store re-opened Claire, who lives in Yeovil, Somerset, hoped to turnover two million pounds annually.

The 22 staff are now looking ahead to another year and another shop.

Loyal customer Jane Atkins, a 55-year-old hairdresser, said: "The shop is just brilliant - I can't praise it enough. I was really upset when I heard the old Woolworths was closing. It would have left a big hole in Dorchester. It's fantastic that Claire had the guts to reopen it and I'm thrilled it's so successful. I go in almost every day on my lunchbreak to have a browse and get some pick 'n' mix, and I often buy presents for people. It's great news Claire's thinking of reopening another shop, but I hope she does it fairly locally. She's quite a celebrity around here already."

Bob Cross, a 46-year-old accountant, visited the shop from his home in Godalming, Surrey. He said: "I'm down in Dorchester visiting some family and I've heard so much about Wellworths that I had to pop in. I've been really impressed - it seems all the good bits of the old Woolworths under one roof. It seems to work because they can respond to what local people want to buy. It's great to see it doing so well. I just hope someone has the same idea near where I live."

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