UPDATE: Thaxters of Holt sale could harm local business
A new supermarket in Holt could put extra pressure on local businesses, say residents – despite the promise of 120 new jobs for the town.
The new shop in Holt could be built on the site of a family-owned DIY shop which is preparing to sell-up and move on as it streamlines its business.
After 43 years on the same site, Thaxters of Holt has announced it will close its operation on Old Station Way to focus on trade sales at a new location.
Director Paul Thaxter said he was in talks with a company interested in buying the existing site to build a supermarket, but could not say which firm was interested.
Both parties are seeking guidance from planning officers at North Norfolk District Council over the plans.
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'They would be looking at creating around 120 full-time and part-time jobs on the site,' said Mr Thaxter.
'In the current economic climate that's not bad. Holt will definitely benefit from it,' he added.
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If the deal is successful, Thaxters would continue to operate, selling materials to the building trade, at a new location near Holt, but Mr Thaxter would not say where this would be.
The company was founded in 1968 as a shed and wooden building manufacturer, but that part of the business was sold-off to a former employee in 2005, leaving the timber wholesale arm and retail shop owned by the family.
Due to declining numbers of customers at the store the company now plans to sell it off and focus on its timber sales business, which continues to perform well, selling to the building trade.
The company employs four full-time staff in their yard and one full-time delivery driver and Mr Thaxter said there were no plans for redundancies.
'With the current situation the shop side of things has been very slow. We don't sell much out of the shop at all,' said Mr Thaxter.
'The internet has killed a lot of local shops. Holt has been good to us. It's just time for a change.' he added.
Two directors, Brian and Trevor Thaxter, were also nearing retirement age, which was another reason behind the plans to streamline the business.
County councillor John Perry-Warnes said the new store should be welcomed despite the impact it could have on local traders.
'Supermarkets are very popular and we should perhaps encourage it,' he said.
The new store would have an effect on the town, as people would come to shop there and 'then go away again' without using any other facilities in the town, but 'Holt is big enough and ugly enough to withstand that,' said Mr Perry-Warnes who added: 'You can't stop progress.'
Philip High, district councillor for Holt, said that the new shop could be good for the town, although it would need to pass the usual planning process.
'It's generally felt there's a need for another supermarket in Holt, not out of town,' he said.
'One out of town would do a lot of damage, but that's just my own personal opinion. People would park, shop and go home,' he added.
Town council chairman Bryan Payne said the development would require 'a lot of thought' before a decision was made, due to problems with traffic and poor parking in the town.
'It's certainly a very difficult junction there on the bypass. I can't believe highways would want to back it with the junction as it stands,' he said.
'Obviously they're going to have to have a car park there. It depends how big a store they want to put on it.'
He believed that a supermarket could ease the lack of parking in the town, but that a proposed car park near Valley Lane with space for 400 cars would solve the problem.