Woolworths could make a return to the high street under a plan by Littlewoods owner Shop Direct Group to launch 200 franchised stores under the fascia.

The home shopping retailer acquired the Woolworths name from the chain’s administrators following its collapse last year and has already launched the brand online.

It now wants to hear from possible franchisees, but does not plan to manage the branches itself.

“In the new year, we will consider approaches from interested third parties,” Shop Direct chief executive Mark Newton-Jones told The Times. “We believe it could be a successful chain of up to 200 stores, supported by the buying power of the Shop Direct Group.”

The closure of Woolworths caused the loss of 27,000 jobs, and left more than 800 empty premises.

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