December 5 2013 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Aylsham’s Budgens supermarket has been bought by north Norfolk businessman and politician Michael Baker.
Mr Baker, 67, will take over the Norwich Road store from Jamie O’Flynn a week today, on Tuesday September 10.
He plans an immediate refurbishment, due to be completed on October 10 when the supermarket will be relaunched as CT Baker Budgens of Aylsham.
The store, which would stay open during the refurbishment, would be a “hybrid” of his Bakers and Larners of Holt food hall, and the Holt branch of Budgens which he took over five years ago, said Mr Baker. There would be a strong emphasis on selling local produce.
Yesterday evening he met the Aylsham store’s 26 staff and said he had reassured them that their jobs would be safe.
“We will be raiding our piggy bank and investing something in excess of £250,000 in re-fixturing the store,” he added.
“Aylsham’s got a Tesco and a Co-op but I don’t see them as ‘the opposition.’ They are at the lower end of the market and we are pitching at the higher end. There is a huge gap in the market at Aylsham and when this opportunity came up, I grabbed it,” said Mr Baker, who is a UKIP member of Norfolk County Council and North Norfolk District Council, and the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for North Norfolk.
Among changes he plans at Aylsham Budgens are the re-introduction of a delicatessen counter, installing a freshly-baked bread section, and introducing a better quality wine selection.
“We will be losing the bottom 15pc of boring groceries and replacing them with 15pc of better quality groceries,” he added.
Mr Baker is already managing director of Bakers and Larners, CT Baker Budgens of Holt, and CT Baker Builders’ Merchant stores in Holt, Stalham, North Walsham and, since March this year, in Aylsham’s Richard Oakes Road, where he said £1m had been invested in the business.
Mr Baker said he was not actively looking for any further business opportunities at present but would always be interested in looking at anything suitable which became available.
Mr O’Flynn was not available for comment.