Woolworths also became synonymous with the Ladybird brand of clothing which ran one of the most sustained advertising campaigns in comics ever. Readers of Swift and TV Comic will remember "The Sign of the Scarlet Ladybird" comic strip that ran in colour on the back covers of those two titles.
The strip first appeared in the first issue of Swift in March 1954 and continued to appear, with only a brief break, until December 1962, shortly before the paper merged with Eagle. The premise was very much like the Walls ice cream advertising already appearing in Eagle, where Tommy Walls had his own secret sign. The secret sign of the Scarlet Ladybird was actually the Ladybird label in the clothing of the stars of the strip which confirmed that they were all members of the Ladybird Adventure Club (the title of the strip changed in 1957 to 'The Secret Sign of the Ladybird Adventure Club').
I'm not sure when the strip began in TV Comic, although it was some time in the late 1950s (1956-59); it came to an end in the spring of 1967 around issue 805 or thereabouts. Between the two papers, it ran for an astonishing 13 years.
The creator of the strip was Eric Walter Pasold (1906-1978), who took over as head of the Pasolds family textile firm in 1930. Born in Bohemia, he built up a substantial business in Britain in the 1930s and, at its peak, was supplying Ladybird branded garments to 4,000 stories in the UK and 65 overseas markets. The company was taken over by J & P Coats, Paton & Baldwin Ltd. in 1965, which later became Coats Viyella; Woolworths became the exclusive distributors of Ladybird branded clothing in 1984 and, in 2000, bought the brand outright.
The Ladybird clothing brand is likely to survive the collapse of Woolworths as it is now a global brand, with over 160 stores and concessions worldwide everywhere from Ireland to Saudi Arabia. But for many years it has been associated with Woolies and it's sad to see the Sign of the Scarlet Ladybird flicker out.
(* From the top: Woolies photo © Museum of London; "The Sign of the Scarlet Ladybird" artwork from Swift Annual 3 © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd.; panel from TV Comic 384 © Beaverbrook Newspapers Ltd.)