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Mixed reaction to Aylsham Tesco

PUBLISHED: 19:37 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:02 13 July 2010

A mixed reaction greeted Norfolk's newest Tesco this week as it opened its doors for the first time.

While around 150 people were waiting keenly outside in advance of the 9am opening on Monday, others around Aylsham were cautious about the long term viability of local businesses and suppliers.

A mixed reaction greeted Norfolk's newest Tesco this week as it opened its doors for the first time.

While around 150 people were waiting keenly outside in advance of the 9am opening on Monday, others around Aylsham were cautious about the long term viability of local businesses and suppliers.

One town leader said it was in the hands of residents whether or not the Tesco sat happily alongside the market town's traditional offering of independent and smaller stores, or whether the supermarket giant was allowed to take too large a chunk of trade for other traders to survive.

And one of Aylsham's best known traders said it was not the immediate impact of the new supermarket which he was most concerned about, but the possibility of future expansion.

The new store has around 16,000sq ft, or slightly less than 1,500 sq metres, of retail space - around the same size plan that Tesco wants to bring to Sheringham. A public inquiry finished only last week into the Sheringham plan, the results of which should be know in the next few weeks.

Aylsham store manager Richard Cole said he felt the local population were happy to have the new Tesco.

“A lot of people I have spoken to have been going out of town, to Asda at Hellesdon or Tesco at Blue Boar Lane, for their shopping,” said Mr Cole.

“The new store means people will not have to go so far.”

Mr Cole said suggestions the store would open 24 hours a day were wrong and down to incorrect signage being put up for a short time. He conceded the car park was not big enough and answered criticisms of Tesco not building a petrol station on the site by saying: “We would love a petrol station here, but there is not enough space.”

For butcher Crawford White, who runs an established family business on Red Lion Street, the opening of Tesco was “worrying”, but his greatest fear was possible future expansion.

“I don't think the main trouble will be now so much, but if and when there is an expansion on to the neighbouring Keys site.

“We have made sure over the last couple of years that our business is improved as much as possible.

“If Tesco beat us now, I can say we tried our very best, with good local, low mileage food, well presented and aimed at people who want the best.”

Town council chairman Liz Jones said the market place was still busy on Monday morning and added that the future of Aylsham was in the hands of individual shoppers.

“It is down to individual choice, there ought to be room for both. Perhaps you could say Aylsham is now a place with a greater choice.

“People have had a lot of time to prepare for this. A new supermarket is only one challenge in a range of challenges we face in a world which doesn't stand still.”

Tesco handed a cheque for £1,000 to Aylsham Care Trust as part of Monday's opening ceremony.


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