New-look Co-op opens

FROM one era to a new beginning, the Vernon Street branch of the Co-op has gone forth in to the 21st century in style.After a revamp which has taken biggest part of this year, the Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative Society was unveiling its latest new-look store to customers today .

FROM one era to a new beginning, the Vernon Street branch of the Co-op has gone forth in to the 21st century in style.

After a revamp which has taken biggest part of this year, the Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative Society was unveiling its latest new-look store to customers today .

A price tag of just under half a million pounds has paid for increased selling space, the latest facilities including air conditioning, automatic doors, scanning technology and a hole-in-the-wall bank machine to be installed soon. The store will be open longer hours selling a bigger product range.

Co-op spokeswoman, Miriam Harrup, said that since planning approval was given in April last year the project has gone ahead on schedule.

Work began in January this year and has continued steadily throughout the year while remaining open throughout to customers.

"The co-operation of our neighbours and staff during the building work has been greatly appreciated," she added.

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Chief Executive Officer, William Brown, said, "We are delighted with this new development, which demonstrates our commitment to food retailing in the convenience store sector and to providing a wide variety of good value products from a friendly local store."

Building of the Vernon Street/Austin Street branch began in 1877 and at a cost of £450 the branch serving the Stoke area of Ipswich opened on January 31, 1878.

It was opened as an ordinary grocery store but nine years later a butchery was added. Extensive alterations were carried out in 1906 and a further extension was added in 1921 to the rear of the original building.

Stoke in those early days had many small houses near to the dock area and grander buildings on the hill. The "new" Co-op used four horse-drawn carts and two trolleys, stables and hay barn which gave employment to many people in addition to those in the shop.

Today Kevin Smith, manager before the alterations began, continues to manage the larger store with his assistant Scott Harrod and 13 members of staff.

The Vernon Street branch is the latest of the Co-op's 21 Foodstores in and around Ipswich town centre to be given the new look.

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