Tesco wants to open store in Southwold
SUPERMARKET giant Tesco has moved to tighten its grip on Suffolk by revealing plans to open a convenience store in Southwold.
The retailer, which is also looking to open outlets in Leiston and Saxmundham, has confirmed its interest in moving into the former Co-op premises in Queen Street.
The news has been greeted warmly by those who say its central location will help keep people in the town and benefit independent traders.
Anti-supermarket campaigner Lady Caroline Cranbrook backed the proposal but said it would have a negative impact on employment levels and some smaller traders.
She said: 'This is the sort of supermarket we need in small market towns. I think traders will benefit from the footfall; they don't benefit when stores are on the edge of town.
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'At Leiston it's not in the centre, traders are rightly concerned people won't make the trip from the Tesco car park to the high street.
'I think it will affect employment though, these supermarkets are becoming more and more automated.'
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Yet a spokeswoman for Tesco confirmed the new store will create 20 new jobs.
Southwold Chamber of Commerce declined to comment on Tesco's plans but Teresa Baggott, licensee of The Red Lion, threw her weight behind the move.
'I think it's actually very good news for the town,' she said. 'I know it's Tesco and it's a big chain and we like to keep the shops as independent as possible. But with the volume of people visiting we cannot survive on one supermarket alone.
'The majority of people I think will embrace it because it's more choice.
'It might have a downside [on other businesses] in the winter because we don't have the people here then.'
Southwold resident Adele Buckley, 48, said: 'I think it's a good move quite frankly because it's going to keep people in the town.
'The town has always been able to sustain two supermarkets, What needs to be established is what they both do.
'We don't want to see our local businesses go. It would be mad to have an aisle for newspapers and cards, because that's already provided in the town.'
Carol Leslie, spokeswoman for Tesco, said: 'We think this is an excellent location for a Tesco Express.
'Not only is this an excellent opportunity to bring these premises back into use but we look forward to investing in the area, creating new jobs, serving local people and becoming part of the community.
'Our Express stores are extremely popular and can bring lots of benefit to the community they serve.
'Not only will it keep people shopping in the area but is extremely convenient for residents living nearby who have no transport or those preferring to shop on foot.
'We believe it will benefit the area by encouraging people to shop locally and also cut down on car journeys to other shopping areas.'