New supermarket set for town centre

IPSWICH town centre is set for a new supermarket after it emerged Somerfield is set to open a store.

IPSWICH town centre is set for a new supermarket after it emerged Somerfield is set to open a store.

The supermarket chain, currently subject to a £1.5billion buyout from the Co-operative Group, is hoping to open a new store in the Eastgate Centre in Carr Street.

Somerfield has applied for permission to put a new sign on the currently vacant unit although it is unclear when the supermarket will open for trade.

However the name could have to be changed again in the near future if the proposed buyout goes ahead, with Co-op planning to re-brand the majority of Somerfield's 880 stores.

That could mean a Co-op supermarket just a few yards away from the existing Co-op department store on Carr Street.

A spokeswoman for the national Co-op group said that until the buyout was completed the set-up of the new store remains an issue for Somerfield:

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“There is a lot of speculation around the acquisition - it is subject to the necessary regulatory approvals and that's the Office of Fair Trading,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Somerfield said: “We are proceeding as usual until such time as someone tells us not to.”

Although the Co-op plans to rebrand all the Somerfield stores it keeps, more than 100 of the 880 Somerfield outlets around the UK are likely to have to be sold to larger rivals such as Tesco and Asda to satisfy the Office of Fair Trading's competition concerns.

The Co-operative Group runs supermarkets and other stores across the country, except in areas where there is a strong regional society.

The Ipswich-based East of England Co-op runs stores in Suffolk, Norfolk, and Essex.

In the past when the national group has taken over another company, it has sold on individual branches to regional societies - for instance when Alldays was taken over by the national group and sold branches in Suffolk to the Ipswich-based society.

Does Ipswich town centre need another supermarket? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk