Mums may go to Iceland, but the frozen food giant is coming to Herne Bay. A new store is taking over the old Woolworths site in Mortimer Street and could open by the end of March after the popular supermarket chain snapped up the building last week. It was one of 51 empty Woolworths stores added to Iceland’s catalogue of more than 700 nationwide. The move has ended speculation bubbling around the town since the site was boarded-up at the end of last month.
The imminent arrival of Iceland, famously promoted by troubled celebrity Kerry Katona with the slogan ‘That’s why mums go to Iceland,’ has been welcomed by other businesses in the town – including those who could be in direct competition with the national retailer. Brian Tutt has run his self-named butchers shop in the High Street for 35 years.
“It’s nice to see the shop filled. I can’t see business being affected because we sell different quality foods. We only sell fresh meat, whereas Iceland also sell groceries and are a cheaper version. I’d like to think we have a loyal clientele, but speak to me again in six months and I’ll let you know how we’re getting on.”
Steve Lynch, owner of High Street grocers Fresh & Fruity, also welcomed its arrival.
“It’s going to bring people to the town so it can’t be a bad thing. I think Iceland is one of the better supermarkets so it’ll be nice to see them in Herne Bay. I can’t see it affecting our business because so many places do groceries anyway.”
Town centre manager Chris West was pleased to see the empty store occupied so quickly.
“It’s really good news. We were obviously concerned the building would remain empty for some time but we understand Iceland hope to open within two-and-a-half months. Hopefully the new store will generate footfall and won’t really be in direct competition with any other shops in the town. I think it’s a fantastic move and the ideal replacement for Woolworths. The store will bring more to Herne Bay, particularly at that end of Mortimer Street and there’s room for everyone to benefit. Hopefully Iceland will attract those shoppers who might otherwise visit the bigger retail outlets.”
Iceland marketing director Nick Canning confirmed news of the move this week.
“In response to widespread media speculation, I can confirm that following the successful acquisition of 51 Woolworth stores, Iceland will be creating in the region of 2,500 jobs across the country in the coming year. This is in addition to our existing new store opening programme. We are confident we can help support the local community in Herne Bay who have lost a major high street retailer in Woolworths. We aim to develop our business in 2009 by continuing to offer our customers fantastic value everyday, across our range of frozen, grocery and chilled products. We look forward to becoming part of the Herne Bay community and helping build a bright future for 2009.”
thisiskent 12th Jan 2009