Waitrose to push ahead with Saffron Walden store extension after Sainsbury's plans refused

PUBLISHED: 14:18 16 December 2010

WAITROSE has insisted that it will forge ahead with its plans to extend its town centre store in the wake of the Sainsbury's decision.

The store has plans on the table to improve its Hill Street store which essentially includes extra retail floor space and bigger car park.

Store manager Malcolm Domb defended Waitrose after accusations that it was using “blocking tactics” designed to persuade councillors to reject the Sainsbury’s proposals for a new superstore in Thaxted Road.

Addressing councillors at Thursday’s meeting, Mr Domb said Sainsbury’s would offer “no benefit” to the town centre.

“Sainsbury’s would divert £10m from our trade – 43 per cent – which would take us below the levels we expect. And that would have a knock-on effect on footfall in the town,” he said.

“We are not, as Sainsbury’s has suggested, afraid of the commercial competition but genuinely concerned about the impact and the diversion of trade [proposed by Sainsbury’s] which is vital to the town centre health and turnover.

He added that Waitrose’s proposals are part of the “important investment” in the store.

Speaking after the decision, a Waitrose spokesman added: “We believe it was the right decision for maintaining the vibrancy of Saffron Walden and its future as an attractive shopping destination.

“We have always felt Saffron Walden will be best served by encouraging more investment in the town centre.

“We remain committed to our plans to extend our store here.”

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