Monday, 28 January 2008

It's official - Tesco wants Aquasplash

SUPERMARKET giant Tesco has confirmed it is interested in buying the now-closed Aquasplash leisure pool in Minehead as part of a larger deal involving the town’s Vulcan Road car park site.
Following a story leaked a fortnight ago from inside cash crisis West Somerset Council, Tesco corporate affairs manager Tony Fletcher gave The Post a ‘categorical denial’ that the company had purchased the sites.
But Mr Fletcher confirmed the company had submitted proposals as part of the current consultation exercise over the future use of the Vulcan Road site.
Mr Fletcher said: “The company is awaiting feedback from the council’s consultation exercise and believes that its proposals for a larger foodstore, along with a much-needed hotel, coach parking, and further residential units, are essential to meet the future needs of both local residents and visitors to the town.
“A larger foodstore - comparable to that in Tiverton - will offer shoppers a wider range and more choice, especially of local produce and specialist foods such as organic products.
“It will also draw shoppers to Minehead from outlying areas, thus preventing them having to drive further afield to other destinations, whereas a second foodstore of comparable size to the existing one will not be able to offer such a wide variety.
“A new, larger Tesco would also act as a magnet to new shoppers and, importantly, to other new retailers as a result of the redevelopment of the existing store site for retail use.”
Mr Fletcher said Tesco looked forward to being part of the Minehead community for many years to come, irrespective of whether or not it was chosen for the Vulcan Road site.
He said: “Tesco’s existing store in Seaward Way has served Minehead for more than seven years, employing nearly 180 local people, and has played an integral part in the local community.
“During this time, the store has proved extremely popular to both local residents and visitors to the town.
“As part of our on-going process, the company is always reviewing its product range and store performance.
“The store is already handling more customers than it was designed for and thus is operating under severe constraints.
“This is confirmed in the initial feedback from a survey currently being undertaken among our customers which also suggests customers would like to see more locally-sourced and organic produce, a range of clothing, and a cafĂ©.
“The full results of the Tesco survey will be published shortly.”
Council PR and media officer Stacey Beaumont said: “The council, like the public, has learned of this apparent interest through the media and has not had any contact regarding this matter from Tesco.
“In any case, we would like to point out that Aquasplash is not on the market and, with regards to Vulcan Road, no decision has been made or will be made until councillors have received and considered the consultation results.”

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