Upmarket grocer Waitrose has acquired its first unit in Ipswich for a smaller format convenience store, it was announced today.
Located in the Corn Exchange, a listed building in the heart of the Suffolk town, the store will occupy around 5,000 sq ft of the ground floor, giving the retailer a presence in Ipswich for the first time.
Real estate service firm Jones Lang La Salle (JLL) agreed a 15-year lease with Ipswich Borough Council on behalf of the supermarket group, and the new store is part of Waitrose’s plan to significantly expand its c-store portfolio across the UK in the next five years.
Paul Faulkner, Director in JLL’s London office, commented: “This new store for Waitrose demonstrates that the supermarket chain is now making real headway in its convenience store opening programme as well as showcasing its ability to work harmoniously with buildings of great historical importance.”
This announcement comes as the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, paid tribute to the business’s commitment to creating jobs in the troubled economic climate during his visit to its Dotcom Fulfilment Centre in Acton, West London on Friday.
Creating over 200 new jobs in the capital, as well as increasing capacity for online business in the city for the retailer, the centre employs a high number of local people, many of whom were previously unemployed.
Johnson acknowledged the difficulties facing job hunters and welcomed the supermarket’s dedication to creating jobs.
“These are challenging times for employers looking to create jobs and opportunities and so it is great news that Waitrose is expanding its operations back in its spiritual home of West London,” he commented.
“Scores of previously unemployed people are now hard at work in this fantastic new facility, dispatching orders with impressive speed and accuracy to customers across the capital.
“Improving skills through training, work experience and apprenticeships is vital for our long term prosperity and here at City Hall we are doing all we can to champion the role that major employers such as Waitrose can play.”
Tony Solomons, Retail Director at Waitrose, explained that, while the group looks to increase its presence in the north of the country, growth in the capital is also still important.
“We have ambitious plans for growth in London, and by the end of 2012, we plan to open a record number of branches in the capital,” he said.
“This combined with increased capacity at the Dotcom Fulfilment Centre will provide 1,200 additional jobs in the next 14 months in London. ”