December 5 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
With 24 hours to go before its grand opening it is all systems go at Sheringham’s new Tesco store.
The multi-million pound supermarket will open its doors to the public at 8am tomorrow, marking the end of a planning saga that has lasted 17 years and split the town.
And while builders and staff are busy putting the final touches to the 14,000 sq ft store, determined town traders are preparing for the launch - but have said it will be a case of wait and see to determine any effect Tesco will have.
Cliff and Maxine Morris, owners of Whistlestop newsagent and cafe, said they had planned ahead for the supermarket’s arrival and added to their business by securing planning permission to set up tables and chairs outside.
Mrs Morris said: “All we can hope is that our customers are loyal to us. The people that come through our door aren’t supermarket people and we hope they stay like that.”
Ted Wood, who works part time at P&J Scotter fishmongers, said he was not worried about Tesco coming to town and hoped it could sit alongside the independent retailers.
“What we have had from our regular customers is that they’ll still come here for fresh fish,” he added. “By the time summer comes we’ll get a better idea of how people are shopping. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
The history of the controversial store dates back to 1996 and the planning battle that ensued sparked fierce opposition from some residents and traders, who feared the supermarket would lead to the demise of the high street.
Its new manager Simon Nellis, who previously ran the Tesco Metro in Guildhall Hill, Norwich, was aware of the turbulent planning past, but stressed he and his new 140-strong workforce were determined to be good neighbours.
He said: “I don’t want it to be Tesco and Sheringham, I’d like us to be a part of Sheringham itself as much as I want them to be a part of Tesco.
“Naturally some of these guys are going to be a little bit concerned and we understand that but we’ll be encouraging people to shop on the high street if what we have isn’t right for their needs.
“We want to enhance the offer of Sheringham.”
A ribbon cutting ceremony at 10am tomorrow will follow the opening, during which cheques for £500 will be presented to the Sheringham branch of the Royal British Legion and the friends of Woodfields School.
And Mr Nellis said the store would continue to support local groups and the community, by getting involved with activities such as beach cleans and lending staff out as a volunteer workforce.
Alongside the store, two community spaces have been built - one of which will be taken up by the police in the new year - and two shop units have been constructed on the link walkway.
Woodfields Den, the charity shop affiliated to Sheringham Woodfields school, has moved into the smaller unit and Tesco bosses are keen for a local business to take up the other.