updated 6/25/2009 11:10:04 AM ET 2009-06-25T15:10:04

The 100-year-old Woolworths brand was resurrected on Thursday as an online store almost six months after the retailing stalwart went bankrupt and shut down its high street shops.

The new brand owner, Shop Direct, reportedly paid administrators for the failed company between 5 and 10 million pounds ($8-16 million) to take on the name of a company that was once a household favorite.

The new website, which uses the company's distinctive red coloring, is a virtual reincarnation of much of the old stores — offering goods ranging from the iconic pic n' mix sweets to CDs, DVDs, toys and children's fancy dress.

It will also add many products that were too big to sell in-store, such as barbecues, outdoor tables and chairs and swimming pools.

But kettles and ironing boards — former staples of the store — are out after Shop Direct decided not to stock do-it-yourself or household goods.

Matthew Hardcastle, who heads the online store, said stock was chosen based largely on feedback from many of the one million customers and Woolies fans that have already contacted the group.

The firm has also turned to new technology for feedback, with some 8,000 followers on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook providing input.

"Families wanted us to bring back Woolies as soon as possible, so that's what we've done," said Shop Direct group chief executive Mark Newton-Jones.

Shop Direct, which employs around 10,500 people and already has some five million customers, said it had spent "several millions of pounds" bringing Woolworths back.

The site is initially split into three areas — party, entertainment and the main shop — with three separate check-outs, although the company is aiming to integrate them into one by the autumn.

Debt-laden Woolworths turned out the lights at the last of its 807 shops across Britain in early January after filing for bankruptcy protection in November, ending almost a century of trading in Britain.

The first British Woolworths store opened in Liverpool, northern England, in 1909 under the FW Woolworths brand — a subsidiary of the U.S. company.

Administrator Deloitte held a huge liquidation sale — even selling off fixtures and fittings — as it made a failed attempt to find a buyer for the business as a going concern. Around 27,000 jobs were lost with the closure of the stores.

The British retail company did outlast its original U.S. parent, which closed its final Woolworths stores in 1997. The British company was not related to Sydney, Australia-based Woolworths Ltd. or South Africa's Woolworths Holdings Ltd, which are still trading.

Shop Direct is owned by David and Frederick Barclay, the reclusive brothers whose interests include the Telegraph newspaper group.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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