Supermarket to move into printworks site

ONE of the country's leading supermarket chains is hoping to move into a north Suffolk town in a move that will see the end of a printing tradition that goes back more than 200 years.

ONE of the country's leading supermarket chains is hoping to move into a north Suffolk town in a move that will see the end of a printing tradition that goes back more than 200 years.

Tesco yesterday submitted a planning application to Waveney District Council to develop a new store on the site of the Clowes Printworks in the centre of Beccles.

Managing director of the print company, Ian Foyster, welcomed the move as it will help develop the long-term future of Clowes.

The sale of the existing premises to Tesco will enable Clowes, that has more than 180 employees, to relocate to a location and building more suitable for the highly competitive and international modern print industry.


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However, there will be many people saddened by the thought that William Clowes will be moving out of the centre of Beccles.

The company has been operating from buildings in the heart of the town for more than two centuries.

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Printing has a long established tradition in north Suffolk and is still an important industry for the area today.

Clowes is a major employer for the area and produces high quality books and other printed media that are distributed all over the world.

Just a few miles away at neighbouring Bungay Clays are another large print firm that specialises in book printing for the international market.

Management at Clowes are not disclosing exactly where they will be relocating to if the Tesco planning application is successful.

It is understood that the company is looking at three possible new sites and that negotiations are at a "delicate" stage.

Clowes is hoping to make an announcement on its new site when all the negotiations are complete and if the Tesco application is approved.

All three sites being looked at by the printing company are described as "local" and will not involve the workforce having to travel any great distances.

Mr Foyster said: "This is an important moment in the 200-year history of William Clowes.

"This deal will secure the future of the company and set in place the foundations for it to prosper for the next 200 years."

He said the current premises had been located in the centre of Beccles for historic reasons and that the buildings and locations were far from ideal for the modern business.

"We are exploring a number of options for relocation, although clearly Tesco need to obtain planning permission for the store before the final pieces of this jigsaw can be put in place.

"We hope to make an announcement shortly on where we propose to relocate, should Tesco be successful with its planning application," said Mr Foyster.

The workforce at Clowes are being kept fully informed of developments and are "100% behind us in this matter" said Mr Foyster as they recognise the need to secure the future of the business.

Tesco have been looking to move into the Beccles area for some time.

The country's largest supermarket chain already has stores in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth but they are some distance from Beccles.

Supermarket bosses will be hoping that the Government's recommendations that new stores should be located in town centres whenever possible will help them in the planning process.

The application for the new supermarket will now be advertised and those wishing to comment, both for and against, will have a chance to make their views known to Waveney District Council before councillors on the rural area development committee discuss the application later this year.

Beccles already has a Safeway supermarket close to the town's A146 bypass, a Rainbow Superstore operated by Anglia Co-operative in the town centre, a smaller Somerfield supermarket in the town centre and a Budgens supermarket on a residential estate.

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david.lennard@eadt.co.uk

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