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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sainsbury's pulls out of Llan store development

llanblogger exclusive ...

* Contractors started work only recently on the steel frame of the new store.

* Now with comment by Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates at the foot of story

SAINSBURY’S have pulled out of plans to take over the supermarket now being built for them in Llangollen.
And the shock move leaves a question mark hanging over the 130 jobs promised by the development.
The store giant says it is now looking for another business to take over the 34,000 square foot building currently being built on the former Dobson & Crowther printworks site off the A5.

It was known as that as a result of tough trading conditions the store giant embarked on a review of planned new stores across the UK at the end of last year.
And this morning (Thursday) a Sainsbury’s spokesman confirmed they would be pulling out of the Llangollen development.

The spokesman said: “Following a review we have decided we will not be going ahead with the store on the site in Llangollen.
“We have not taken this decision lightly and are very disappointed we are not able to open a new shop in Llangollen.

“Since the proposals were first announced, shopping patterns have changed considerably and following a review, the scheme is no longer viable for us.

“There has been a fundamental shift in the retail market and in ways of shopping, such as convenience and online which means the scheme is no longer viable.
“It was a tough decision because we had worked really hard to get the support of the local community and to get their backing for the plan.”

The spokesman added: “J-Ross are developers on the scheme and we will be taking the building in August.
“We are now speaking to a range of different businesses to gauge interest and looking for someone to occupy the building.

“We want to make sure we get someone in there as quickly as possible and do it in a way that is complementary to the town.
“We are open to ideas.”   

Stuart Davies, one of the town’s county councillors, said he had been given the bombshell news by Sainsbury’s official by telephone just before he headed off on holiday abroad early this morning.
Cllr Davies, who has been a keen supporter of the controversial development, said he was “saddened” by the announcement and hoped the new store, currently in the early stages of construction on the former Dobson & Crowther site off the A5, could still be taken over by another supermarket company such as Aldi or Lidl.

He added: “The news that Sainsbury’s won’t be coming after all is a real shock.
“The company did say recently that it would be reviewing its programme of store openings, including the one in Llangollen, due to difficult trading conditions.

“I was hopeful that this review would bear out the case for them coming here but now they have finally decided to pull out it is very saddening.
“Much will now have to be decided about the future of the building now going up on the old printworks site but I trust that it can still be used as supermarket, bringing much-needed jobs into the area.

“I will be asking our county economic development team to provide what assistance it can in ensuring Llangollen gets a new supermarket of some form.
“I don’t mind whether it ends up being Aldi or Lidl if they bring some jobs with them.”

The Sainsbury’s development on the old Dobson & Crowther site was part of a deal in which the print company was assisted to move to a new purpose-built factory just further along the A5 on former farmland at Cilmedw.
The firm took up occupation of its new headquarters last year and contractors moved in to clear its former site.

Work on the steel structure of the new supermarket has started in the past few weeks and the store was due to be trading by the end of the year.
The Sainsbury’s plan caused a welter of opposition from its announcement in 2012, which continued through its approval by the county council later that year and beyond.

Opponents, led by campaign group Keep Llangollen Special, argued that the town did not need such a large new food store and that it would badly damage the trade of small shops in the town.
They were particularly against the inclusion of a cafĂ© in the development, which they claimed would have a ruinous effect on local food outlets. 

Doubt was cast over the future of the development late last year after Sainsbury’s announced a half-year loss before tax of £290 million.
Like other large supermarkets they have been under pressure from the rise of discount chains like Aldi and Lidl.

Martin Crumpton, chair of Keep Llangollen Special, said: “This is a victory for common sense and persistence.

“KLS is thrilled an delighted and it’s cause for celebration from one end of the town to another.

“In terms of the site, we see this as a golden opportunity to bring in something like a technical park or warehousing that will bring in employment – skilled and semi-skilled jobs.”  

Clwyd South AM Ken Skates said: “While I am disappointed that Sainsbury's has decided not to occupy the building, it will be completed and it will be occupied.
"This latest development offers us an opportunity to see an alternative retailer such as Aldi or Lidl come to Llangollen if that is what people want.
“We also have an opportunity to say what business use or type of retailer we’d like to see here, so I will be relaying the views of residents to Sainsbury’s as they look to sub-let this brand new building. I would ask my constituents to get in touch and tell me what they want.
“The key demand is that we continue to safeguard and create jobs in Llangollen, as well as build on the town's fantastic reputation.”
* An artist's impression of the completed Sainsbury's store.


  1. Well, another fine mess Denbighshire has got us into! If we have to have a supermarket, why aim for the lowest level? Aldi or Lidl would spell disaster for local businesses, why not a Waitrose? Llangollen is a town that thrives on quality. Why not a completely different development? Something with a touch of class and imagination to benefit future generations? Time for Llangollen people to challenge Councils and big business and create something to be proud of!

    1. Aldi and Lidl are the only two supermarket chains opening new stores, so that is why Messers Skates and Davies are championing them now. The real problem is retail demographics. Supermarket shopping is in a nationwide decline. Tesco's in Cefn Mawr is already a disappointment in terms of turnover. Llangollen has a population of 3,000 with only another 3,500 within a 3 mile radius. Whoever decided that such a small population could support a 34,000 sq ft supermarket has had the necessary reality check and has thrown in the towel. I also find the claim that the project would have brought "much needed" jobs offensive. There is minimal unemployment in Llangollen. What the supermarket would have brought was much needed additional council tax to compensate for Dobson & Crowther's now smaller footprint, but what we're left with is one modern eyesore in Cilmedw and a white (literally) elephant by the riverside. The greed and short-termism of both town and county councils has dug us this hole, but it's going to take an outsider to get them out of it.

  2. No good will come of allowing an Aldi or Lidl to occupy the site as local shops will not be able to compete and will probably close. We need a high quality store such as Waitrose, Marks and Spencer food or something completely different, which will bring in high spending customers to the town and with which local shops can compete. Sainsbury's should not be allowed to call the shots after the way they have behaved over the past few months. DCC should take control and seek a suitable business or businesses to take over the site. Local businesses and residents have been treated very badly by all concerned in this fiasco and heads should roll.

    1. There's little chance of Aldi or Lidl taking over the site. Their target developments are between 8,000 and 19,000 sq. ft. The ex-Sainsbury's development is 34,000 sq ft. This in the first place was an absurd size to try to find a supermarket occupant for, given such a small local population. There were insider Llangollen mutterers from Day1 who said it would never happen and they were right. There needs to be an open investigation into the way everyone, from Messers Skates and Davies downwards, was conned into allowing Dobson & Crowther to build on a greenfield site, when there was never any real intention of having a viable development on their old site.
      What we are all forgetting in this exercise is how much Stan's have done for the town, bringing a serious competitor to the Co-Op, as well as re-opening a much needed petrol station. The last thing we want is yet another supermarket to threaten Stan's.
      The old printworks site will probably end up as a used car lot (that's what it looks like at the moment) or a warehouse of some sort or other. Hardly any extra jobs, yet another eyesore from the surrounding hillside and a monument to our local councillors folly and shortsightedness.
      The whole town needs to learn a lesson from this debacle and never let it happen again.

  3. If this supermarket building is going to be so difficult to let, why is the developer being allowed to carry on? Surely it would be better for another type of development - housing, car parking, small business units etc to be put in its place. The only winners in this sorry mess will be J Ross Developments, who must be laughing all the way to the bank!

    1. To answer your question directly: the developer is being allowed to carry on because there is planning permission for the structure to be built.
      However, if it is not going to be a supermarket, then what will occupy such a big space?
      With Clwyd South AM Ken Skates saying, “it will be completed and it will be occupied", you can see the situation immediately getting worse. Denbighshire gave consent for the project, anticipating substantial council tax, and nothing has changed on that front. If anything, whoever applies for change of use is probably going to get it, because the politicians need their faces saved and their revenues upped. If you thought a supermarket was bad, you may be horrified by what actually appears next year. Oh, Messers Skates and Davies, be careful what you wish for ...