Fears raised after Greggs launch two new Ipswich stores within metres of local bakeries
- Credit: Archant
Independent bakeries in Ipswich have urged customers to continue to shop local after two Greggs stores opened just a handful of metres from existing bakeries in Ipswich.
In the last six months the national chain has opened a store in Rosehill Retail Park off Felixstowe Road – opposite the Victoria’s Bakery on the corner of Felixstowe Road and Hatfield Road, which is around 60metres away.
Another store has also recently opened in Woodbridge Road just three units along from Martins Bakery (around 30m), prompting the owners of both local firms to raise concerns over Greggs’ decisions.
Both stores are owned directly by Greggs and not operated on a franchise model.
Julie Pipe, owner of Martins Bakery, said: “I was a little bit worried, and you anticipate good things for the shopping parade when a unit becomes available, but that did nothing to enhance the parade.
“There was quite a considerable drop [in business] to begin with, but customers have come back and it has evened out a little bit.
Victoria Haddoch, supervisor at the family-run Victoria’s Bakery, added: “It hit us hard in the first two weeks because it was just before Good Friday which is one of our biggest times.
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“You could tell by the takings and the customer count because people will try it as a new shop, but people have come back. The regular customers have been very good – they come in and say they hope it isn’t going to disrupt us.”
Mrs Haddoch said Victoria’s Bakery, which has five stores across Ipswich, had noticed there was more of an appetite to shop locally because more shoppers were appreciating the value now of knowing where their food is made and liked supporting local firms, but felt more could be done by local authorities to support existing firms.
A Greggs spokesman said it did not aim to torpedo local bakeries, and added: “Greggs has had a presence in the Ipswich area for many years and we have recently opened up stores on Woodbridge Road East and Felixstowe Road.
“Through our food on the go stores we aim to provide more choice for consumers, good local jobs and attract new customers to the area, something which other retailers can take advantage of.
“We’re committed to investing in the local area and believe we can work together with other local businesses to support the community.”
Why Ipswich Borough Council cannot intervene
As the local authority for the area, Ipswich Borough Council is responsible for planning matters in the town.
But the borough council confirmed that both sites had already been designated for retail use, meaning no planning application needed to be submitted for joining the site.
Despite serving hot food to take away, Greggs’ main arm of the business is considered retail, which means it did not need to apply for planning permission as a change of use to restaurant or takeaway.
That means that even if Greggs set up a store in between two existing bakeries, the planning authority would have no grounds to intervene.
Had permission been needed to occupy a unit with a different use, a consultation would have begun in which residents, businesses and others could have objected to the location, which would then have been taken into consideration by planners.
As such, this was not the case.