Dorchester’S most famous shop has been forced to change its name.
Wellworths will soon become Wellchester after corporate giants told its manager it would face limits on its growth if it continues under its current name.
Claire Robertson, the manager of the former Woolworths store which became a major success story, said Shop Direct – which bought the Woolworths brand out of administration – would not agree to terms that would allow the company to expand as Wellworths.
The move has been condemned by business leaders.
Former Woolworths Saturday girl Ms Robertson said: “Shop Direct, the parent of Littlewoods, owner of Woolworths name, initially supported the opening of the former Woolworths store in Dorchester as Wellworths – but then sought an agreement which would place limits on the growth of the business under the Wellworths name.
“Regretfully, rather than accept those limits, Wellworths has decided to replace the Wellworths name with Wellchester over the course of the next two years.”
Ms Robertson added: “We have done extremely well over the last year and a half and we’re extremely pleased with how things have gone.
“We have had great support from the customers and from Dorchester and we are now looking forward to the future and hopefully expanding under the new name.
“I hope we’re going to move on from strength to strength.”
Dorchester town crier Alistair Chisholm said the owners of the Woolworths brand should have better things to do than make an issue about the name.
Mr Chisholm said: “How sad that a great big corporation that happens to have that control over a certain name is flexing its muscles.
“I’m delighted she’s not going to be dictated by people that are making far too much of the brand name and not giving her enough credit for what she has done. They should have better things to do with their time than to challenge someone of Claire’s genuine goodwill who has kept people employed and kept the shop going.”
Phil Gordon, project director of the Dorchester BID, said: “It’s disappointing that they have to change the name but if that leaves the door open to expansion then that’s definitely a good thing.
“Wellworths has developed its own identity.”
Wellworths customer Rosalind Holbrook, aged 55, of Castle Park in Dorchester, said: “I use Wellworths weekly and I don’t think it will make a difference. People will shop there – it’s only a name.”
Another regular, Charlotte Turaga, aged 33, of Holbrook Close in Dorchester, said: “As long as everything is still inside I cannot see it making a difference.”