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Not a space in sight as new Penzance Sainsbury's supermarket opens its doors

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: November 25, 2013

Penzance people have voted with their feet – the car park's at the new Sainsbury's has been packed.

Penzance people have voted with their feet – the car park's at the new Sainsbury's has been packed.

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AS our photo shows, there was hardly a parking space to be had as Sainsbury's opened its doors at Eastern Green last Wednesday.

By mid-morning the place was full – while in Penzance, stores such as the Market Jew Street Co-op and Thorne's greengrocers in Causewayhead experienced a very quiet day's trading.

Steve Moine, store manager at Sainsbury's, said he was delighted with the initial performance of the store and with the feedback he was receiving from its new customers.

"People seem to really like the product range, the wider aisles and the cheaper petrol prices," he said. "The store café in particular has been phenomenally popular; the view over to St Michael's Mount has already established it as Sainsbury's most popular store café in the country.

"I'm really pleased with how my colleagues are settling in. We've 280 working here in full- and part-time roles; most live under five miles from the store and it's nice to see many walking to work."

There has been considerable controversy about whether a third large supermarket on the eastern approach to Penzance was necessary and Dick Cliffe, chairman of the town's chamber of commerce, admitted it would take time for the impact of the store to be assessed.

"It's clear only a small minority of Penzance retailers are competing against the supermarkets, most having found competitive niches which avoided direct competition," he said.

"The issue for Penzance is declining retail footfall and declining performance when compared to other retail centres in west Cornwall.

"The chamber's fear of Penzance being eventually eclipsed by developments at Hayle has proved well founded with the recent announcement of a 100,000-plus-square-foot retail development by Cranford at Hayle which will include Debenhams and other well-known brands.

"In this context fighting off Sainsbury's would, if it had been successful, have been a pyrrhic victory."

However, West Cornwall shoppers were benefiting from the increased competition, he said, with the price of petrol, for example, having been slashed by 5p at Tesco and Morrisons to match the price being offered at Sainsbury's.

"The £30 million investment in Penzance represents a vote of confidence in Penzance's future as a retail centre," said Mr Cliffe. "The investment appears to have stimulated interest in Penzance from other stores, as Edinburgh Woollen Mills has been advertising for staff to open a store in Penzance and Furniture World has opened in the old Barn Club premises. There have also been enquiries from The Range."

See letters, page 30, and Old Mike, page 33.

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6 comments

  • Alfiej  |  November 25 2013, 8:38AM

    Alfie Jones The good thing about the new Sainsburys is that it has created at least 280 jobs for the area this can only be a good thing

  • jimjams2011  |  November 24 2013, 6:21PM

    Don't forget all these supermarket tried to feed us horse meet as opposed to beef! Your butcher's meat is fresher, better value, you know what you are getting and you are supporting local people as opposed to these big companies.

    |   6
  • yorkie1957  |  November 24 2013, 6:08PM

    Out of town supermarkets can't be held entirely responsible for the demise of town centres and Penzance is doing a pretty good job of shooting itself in the foot all by itself.I like Penzance but why would I choose to shop there when Camborne lures me with parking at half the price? (it was even free yesterday.Nice one Camborne!)

    |   11
  • elleyc  |  November 24 2013, 12:56PM

    I seem to recall Mr Cliffe's previous comments in the Cornishman stating that Sainsbury's would give a "compelling" reason for people to visit Penzance "when they might not otherwise do so". Of course this is perverse thinking and evidenced by his continued view that the future of Penzance and Penwith is dependent on accommodating as many giant retailers as possible to stimulate and encourage growth. Should we now encourage a retail park outside Penzance because Hayle is to have one? As Mr Cliffe points out local retailers are forced to seek ever shrinking 'niche markets' to remain competitive. Further ingress of big brand names into Penzance can only put further pressure on local traders and indeed rental values. It is a policy that allows unsustainable and disproportional growth within the region and ultimately removes the ability for the local population to have any real choice in the future nature and character of their environment. Any short term gains in employment and choice will be off-set by the nature of these "behemoths" which require constant feeding and growth and the resources in land and infrastructure to sustain them.

    |   9
  • Charlespk  |  November 24 2013, 10:50AM

    Again this just demonstrates how important parking is for all our High Streets and how their demise can be laid fairly and squarely on Councils and Planners.

    |   11
  • macc-lad  |  November 24 2013, 10:37AM

    The fact that both Tesco & Morrison's have reduced their fuel price by 5p proves that for years they have operated a price fixing policy ripping off the people of PZ, what is called for now is a total boycott of both these stores to show there is now a choice.

    |   12

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