Ipswich: Tenth Tesco on the way to town as convenience truth hits home

PUBLISHED: 16:23 19 June 2014 | UPDATED: 16:23 19 June 2014

Former Croydons building that may become a Tesco store.

Former Croydons building that may become a Tesco store.

A generation ago there were fears that there would be nowhere left to buy food in the centre of Ipswich.

Co-op ready for new competition

While the major supermarket chains have discovered a new taste for smaller, convenience stores, the East of England Co-op which has neighbourhood stores across the area is continuing to trade well.

Roger Grosvenor, executive officer of the East of England Co-op, said: “Our competitors have realised the success of our convenience model and are looking to imitate it, and many national and multi-national retailers have become open and vocal about their plans to increase their convenience offer.

“Although the news of Tesco’s recent move into Ipswich is no surprise, we believe at the East of England Co-op we do things differently and lead the way.”

He said Co-ops were able to carry a broad range of products, the stores had a strong emphasis on locally-sourced produce, and the fact the business was owned by its members ensured any profits remained in the local communities it served.

However there have been changes in its offer recently – a very small Co-op store in Norwich Road was converted into a funeral office after a new Tesco Express opened nearby at Christmas.

Now with the news that Tesco is preparing to open a new convenience store on the site of the former Croydons in Tavern Street, Ipswich, the town will be awash with food stores.

It will be the 10th Tesco to open with greater Ipswich – alongside four Sainsbury’s, two Morrisons, two Icelands, two Waitrose, two Marks and Spencers, two Aldis, two Lidls, and a number of Co-op neighbourhood stores.

Within walking distance of the town centre there will be three Tescos, a Sainsbury’s, a Morrisons, a Waitrose, two Icelands and a Marks and Spencer.

Yesterday’s story revealing Tesco’s proposal for the former Croydons store prompted a huge reaction with hundreds of readers taking part in our online poll.

Those opposed to Tesco outnumbered those supporting the proposal by two to one – but the company is hoping to get the store open by the winter, hopefully in time for Christmas.

The site already has planning permission to operate as a shop, but Tesco will need permission for changes to the front with new signs and to alter the inside of the store – but that is not expected to be a major obstacle.

A spokesman for the company said: “We are looking to open an Express store on Tavern Street. We think our store would be popular with customers as it would offer a wide range of products in a convenient location and create around 20 jobs for local people.

“Subject to all the normal planning consents we hope to open the store in the winter. We will keep the local community updated as our plans progress”.

Back in the late 1980s there were real fears that the town centre would become a food desert after Tesco shut its St Matthew’s store after opening at Copdock Mill.

Sainsbury’s in Upper Brook Street only stayed open after the borough made that a condition of giving permission for the construction of the Hadleigh Road site – by the time that condition lapsed in the mid-1990s the town centre store was busier than ever and has since been totally refurbished.

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