In what appears to be an increasingly grey and mundane landscape the occasional ray of sunshine is more than welcome.  My personal shining star right now is the retailer Wilkinson who seem to have suddenly awoken to become everything that Woolworth failed to be.  They are even doing it in the very shop units in which Woolies crashed and burned.

It’s hard to fault the new look Wilko.  Great new logo that manages to be both contemporary and friendly in equal measure, stores that despite their stack-it-high-sell-it-cheap approach to merchandising still appear orderly and inviting and whether it’s just my local branch or common throughout the chain, the staff are friendlier, and more helpful than those in many premium stores.

Their array of categories offer the diversity that Woolworth failed to cope with and rationalised away long before their eventual demise.  Wilko’s homewares sit better in the store than those of Matalan or TK Max and partner with decorating products more comfortably that Homebase.

Wilkinson, remarkably, was top of mind for me when buying a few stationery items today, even though in Newbury High Street, WH Smith are directly opposite (But I always think of Smiths as a venue for a wrist-slashing anyway!).  I bought de-icer from there a few weeks ago in preference to Halfords, and a few homewares items that I could have picked up from Tesco, had I been so inclined.  Admittedly there is a chasm between the old Wilko stores and the new smart format, but with a roll-out planned I’m sure it won’t be long before everyone will be able to experience the wonder of Wilko!  Even their web experience is good.  Frankly, I can’t see how they would fail.

Michael Weaver
February 2, 2011

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