Waitrose to open in Saxmundham

UPMARKET food retailer Waitrose has announced it will be opening a new store in the heart of Suffolk, sparking concerns that local farm shops will face tougher competition.

John Howard

UPMARKET food retailer Waitrose has announced it will be opening a new store in the heart of Suffolk, sparking concerns that local farm shops will face tougher competition.

The business, part of the John Lewis Partnership, has announced an ambitious programme, entering into a conditional agreement with The Co-operative Group to purchase 13 stores.

One of the branches is in Saxmundham and it should open as Waitrose in mid May - the move arising out of the group's acquisition of Somerfield.


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Lady Cranbrook, a Suffolk champion of naturally grown food and local producers, said it was wonderful news for Saxmundham.

She said: “Waitrose has a high reputation for very good, quality food, and many people within the county supply the stores with produce, including free range pork.

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“But I am anxious about farm delicatessens, farm shops, they will face competition now. But we have such a special offering in our farm shops and delicatessens that we will probably compete.

“I am concerned that Waitrose offer a range of prices, good foods at affordable prices for Saxmundham. I am also very sad to see Somerfield go, they are an excellent shop with a very friendly atmosphere with a wide range of affordable food.

“Our farm shops offer a better range of food and have a knowledge of what they are selling. The independent shops have a unique selling point, which is that they are based right within the community, where people can meet and people do value that.”

Sir Peter Batho, a Suffolk coastal district councillor who represents Saxmundham, said: “We are extremely pleased.

“People living in the surrounding villages and towns like Aldeburgh are not particularly well served by supermarkets, and this will bring them into Saxmundham and possibly more trade for other local retailers too.”

Waitrose Managing Director Mark Price said: “There is a real weight of evidence that businesses that continue to invest during tough economic times fare much better when the economy begins to recover. Our new shops will help ensure Waitrose is in the best shape possible coming out of the recession.

“I am always overwhelmed by the number of letters I receive asking for a Waitrose in new areas, demonstrating there is a strong demand for quality food. We are delighted that 4,000 new employees will be joining our business.”

Customers at the new food shops can expect a wide range of fresh foods including dedicated meat, fish, delicatessen, patisserie and cheese service counters, together with the supermarket's award-winning wine collection.

The acquisition is conditional on regulatory approval and the successful completion of The Co-operative Group's acquisition of Somerfield. Nine additional new Waitrose branches are also due to open in 2009, including one in Colchester, Essex.

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