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Somerfield sold to Morrisons

PUBLISHED: 11:20 20 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:39 03 July 2010

Gorleston's Somerfield supermarket was this week confirmed as the latest in East Anglia to be sold to retail giant Morrisons.

The 24,000sq ft store in Blackwall Reach will close on April 19 leaving Somerfield to concentrate on operating smaller fresh food shops.

Gorleston's Somerfield supermarket was this week confirmed as the latest in East Anglia to be sold to retail giant Morrisons.

The 24,000sq ft store in Blackwall Reach will close on April 19 leaving Somerfield to concentrate on operating smaller fresh food shops.

Many customers visiting the supermarket on Wednesday were pleased about the takeover saying it would bring a greater range of products at lower prices.

Kymm Lucas, 48, from Lingwood, is only an occasional customer at the Somerfield store, but was a regular customer at a Morrisons in Norwich.

She said: “It is a shop I like so I don't think it is such a bad thing. They have a fish counter and it is well stocked. If the prices are the same at the new Gorleston store I think it would be quite good so I would be quite in favour of the takeover.”

Mandi Cover, of East Anglian Way, Gorleston said the appearance of the Somerfield shop need tidying up and believed the new store, which is due to re-open on April 25, would encourage more people living nearby to shop locally rather than travelling to the larger Tescos and Asda in Yarmouth.

She said: “This store is more convenient for me and would save me getting stuck in traffic when I visit Tesco and Asda. If Morrisons comes then I would shop here more often. There would be more older people who cannot drive who would visit the Morrisons shop so I think it would bring more people to the area.”

And Vandavea Larter, 41, of Lower Cliff Road, Gorleston said the existing shop did not have a meat counter and needed to improve the range of products on offer.

She said: “I find it difficult to find things in the Somerfield store. It does not have that much of a meat section and does not have a freezer section.”

But Terence Wylie, 67, from Pakefield, said he missed a Somerfield store in London Road North, Lowestoft, which closed in October, because the staff were friendly.

He said: “I think it is a load of rubbish. We miss the Lowestoft Somerfield and that is why we are over here. We always have good service off them. I prefer Somerfield's range and feel the atmosphere is more relaxed.”

All 115 staff at Gorleston Somerfield will transfer to Morrisons which plans to refurbish the store creating a butchers, fishmongers and bakers food counters offering 150 cuts of meat, 110 different cuts of fish and 80 types of bread.

Morrisons is the UK's fourth largest food retailer with 376 stores nationwide and welcomes nine million customers through its doors each week.

Mike Zamiteas, East of England regional director for Morrisons, said: “We look forward to serving the people of Gorleston and bringing our fresh, quality and value products to new customers.”

Somerfield spokeswoman Karen Baxter said: “This decision to close the store was not an easy one, however the Gorleston store is significantly larger than average for Somerfield. It is in excess of 24,000sq ft, whilst our average store size is around 8,000sq ft. Our current strategy is to focus on our position as a leading local grocer operating fresh food stores in convenient locations.”

She said the nearest alternative stores were at Beccles and Norwich.

Peter Warner, head of planning at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, also welcomed the takeover news and said: “Morrisons has got a good reputation and it is one of the top three or four retailers in the UK, so I think Morrisons would actually prove to be a fillip for Gorleston High Street.”

He said it was important the Somerfield site was not left vacant because many other town centre shops thrived off the custom brought into the town by the larger supermarket.

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