December 12 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
After 17 years of bitter battling, Norfolk’s most controversial supermarket is set to open its doors next week.
Tesco has announced that it will launch its Sheringham store on Thursday October 24 - bringing to a climax a saga that has split the town.
And two days before the opening of the Cromer Road supermarket, there will be a remarkable event, as many of the town’s traders take up Tesco’s invitation to have a tour of the store.
It will be an extraordinary new twist in a tale that has seen Sheringham shopkeepers strongly opposed to Tesco, amid fears it could lead to their demise.
But chamber of trade secretary Andy Bullen said they were “ready for the fight” and determined to “keep Sheringham special”.
He said the tour was “a case of ‘better the devil you know’”.
And he added: “The town and the traders are ready for Tesco. There has been a definite upsurge in positivity. We want to keep Sheringham special, so let’s make sure that we can.
“I think there’s a 1940s spirit amongst the traders.”
Former deputy mayor David Gooch said: “They’re here, and we’ve got to put all our personal opinions behind us and make Sheringham work.
“The town I believe is robust enough to continue post Tesco. It’s up to the people now. Tesco is here and we have to accept it. Now we have to support the local shops.”
He added: “There are some incredibly good shops in the town. We will never buy our groceries or our meat from Tesco, because there are brilliant greengrocers and butchers in Sheringham. You get excellent service and they know their customers.”
Mr Bullen said: “As long as they keep to selling what they were given permission to sell, we can perhaps use them to help our cause.
“The challenge to Tesco is to open without damaging Sheringham: what a great plus that would be for Tesco. It’s in their interest to keep Sheringham special because they will rely on the trade of the tourists who visit the town because of what it is - including the wonderful town centre shops.”
The shop will open its doors to the public for the first time at 8am, with official launch celebrations at 10am.
It will mark the end of saga stretching back to 1996, which saw a bitter planning battle sparked by concerns from town traders that the store would hit business in the traditional town centre.
Tesco however argued it would bring more trade to the town, and stop people driving miles to other stores to do their big weekly shops.
Staff at the store are now hard at work preparing for the opening, after store manager, Simon Nellis, was presented with the keys to the building.
He said: “Now that we have received the keys and the building work is complete, we can start to prepare the store and stock the shelves.
“It’s an exciting time for all the team and we’re working hard to ensure that the store is perfect for the residents of Sheringham. This store is unique and I’m looking forward to welcoming customers so they can see for themselves.”
The 140 members of staff are currently being trained for their new roles at nearby Tesco stores in Aylsham and Norwich.
To help mark the launch, the store will make £1,000 worth of donations to the local community and customers will be invited to enjoy complimentary refreshments.
The new store will be open from 7am-11pm from Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sundays.