Sainsbury's offer deal for town centre shops

PUBLISHED: 09:31 19 February 2010 | UPDATED: 22:10 31 May 2010

A NEW Sainsbury s-backed plan to boost trade in Saffron Walden town centre has been branded as a smokescreen by campaigners. The supermarket giant, which hopes to build a new store on Thaxted Road, has offered to finance an online service that will prov

A NEW Sainsbury's-backed plan to boost trade in Saffron Walden town centre has been branded as a "smokescreen" by campaigners.

The supermarket giant, which hopes to build a new store on Thaxted Road, has offered to finance an online service that will provide marketing and technical expertise to independent shops in Saffron Walden.

The initiative, called All The Little Shops, has proved successful in other towns such as Shrewsbury where it has attracted more than 150 independent stores.

Sainsbury's development surveyor, Michael Morris, said: "We at Sainsbury's believe our proposed store in Thaxted Road will, if it receives consent, contribute positively to Saffron Walden's economy. However, we want to demonstrate our commitment to Saffron Walden traders and the town centre.

"We have commissioned the initial development of the All The Little Shops scheme in Saffron Walden.

"If the application is successful, Sainsbury's will fund All The Little Shops for its first two years until it becomes self-sustaining.

"If the application is unsuccessful, Sainsbury's proposes to finance the initial costs of starting up All The Little Shops in Saffron Walden. This is so Saffron Walden businesses can develop the scheme independently."

However, Paul Gadd from the Save Walden Town Centre campaign group has described the offer as a "smokescreen" and irrelevant to the debate about whether a new superstore should be built.

"I don't want to denigrate the scheme, as I have no way of judging whether it's good or bad," he said. "It's a complete red herring though in the context of the proposed supermarket developments.

"It's worth remembering that Sainsbury's are forecasting turnover for their store of at least £33m annually - the vast majority of which is going to be trade diverted from the existing Saffron Walden shops.

"I've no idea how much this scheme would cost but whatever it is, it's not a great deal to give back in exchange for taking away over £33m of turnover from the town!"

To see how All The Little Shops has worked in Shrewsbery visit www.shrewsburyshopping.co.uk/.

Founder of All The Little Shops, Peter Riches, will give a public presentation on how the scheme can benefit Saffron Walden businesses at a meeting in Saffron Walden Town Hall at 5.30pm on Tuesday (February 23).

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