11 November 2014…..Waitrose have been kind enough to inform saveHOVE that it is to acquire the Neville Road, Hove, Co-op Superstore.
The Co-op will continue to trade at the site until 13th March 2014. All 80 Co-op employees will be offered the opportunity to become Partners in the John Lewis Partnership. The branch will then close for about 4 weeks to enable conversion and for employees to receive their inductions as Waitrose Partners. Additional job creation is planned. As I hope everyone knows, all employees are also Partners when they work for Waitrose/The John Lewis Partnership, with a say in how it is run and with a share in profits.
In addition, it supports local good causes. Every month three are chosen and checkout tokens can be taken to use to “vote” for which one to support. This is done in their Western Road branch and will be continued at the Neville Road branch.
Northern Hove trade that would normally come down Sackville Road to the Church Road Tesco shed or down Montpelier Road to the Western Road Waitrose might reasonably be expected to use the new Waitrose instead. This could help reduce traffic levels south of the bi-secting railway just a little. The 1970-90’s period saw Hove expand right up to the Downs, but without local shopping. People get in cars and go to the little Grenadier area (where there is a still a Co-op) or off to the west to the huge Tesco/M&S or Sainsbury branches there. Waitrose won’t change that, but it introduces a treat of a supermarket into that area that is also ethical.
This announcement creates interesting questions and possibilities. The Sackville Trading Estate developers P2 renewed planning consent many months ago, and Coal Pensions acquired more land to the south of the existing Sackville Trading Estate. The decision to take the Co-op site means Waitrose would be unlikely to now be in contention to be part of the Sackville redevelopment. And does Waitrose have expansion thoughts of any kind? How about the future of the Greyhound Stadium…hmmmm? This is a funny old corner of Hove with the Co-op there in splendid isolation – without other retailers near by. Waitrose will no doubt appreciate having the 2,000 City Park employees over the garden wall who can be counted on to want to shop Waitrose (hopefully), either for lunches or otherwise.
But what, sadly, does all this say about the Co-op and its fortunes? Recent weeks have told us the Co-operative Bank is in trouble. This sale of an outlet to Waitrose suggests wider Co-operative enterprises have been impacted. For many the banking news was a shock and a bit of a blow since the ethics of the Co-operative movement seemed to mean they were not caught up in the bad banking practices of the 2007-8 crash.
But, hey, isn’t it wonderful that Waitrose with its co-operative partnering employment practices and profit-sharing is taking it over? Something good salvaged from an apparent Co-op failure. Perhaps Waitrose were even approached and offered the outlet…given first refusal? It is a nice thought, isn’t it?