A NEW Budgens store in Aberystwyth had its official opening on Saturday (Jul 16), where customers came along to shop for their favourite products at the new addition to the town’s retail group.
Walking through the new Budgens store in the Ystwyth Retail Park on Park Avenue feels refreshing. On the positive side, customers can expect a similar layout to the store with just as many products as its former Co-op.
From the dairy products, confectionery and magazine aisles at the front all the way to the bakery and frozen food section at the back of the store, customers can expect appealing products to suit their needs.
Customers can also expect friendly customer service and familiar staff members, as 920 Co-op staff members’ jobs were left unaffected by the new business agreement.
Long before the Co-op came along, many of us will remember the Somerfield chain, which was bought out in 2008 for £1.6 billion. In the latest rebrand, 36 Co-operative stores across the UK will now will be known as Budgens supermarkets.
2014 was the year that plans were announced to cut the network of shops by around 15% and in 2015, 91 Co-op stores were sold off, making a total of £175 million.
Co-op had two stores in Aberystwyth, with one being the new Budgens store in the Ystwyth Retail Park and the other in Penparcau, which was left unaffected by the changeover due to it not being a former Somerfield store.
Jacob, Team Leader at Aberystwyth’s Budgens stores, spoke to The Herald regarding the opening of the new store: “Tuesday was my first day at Budgens; I was with Co-op before that as a Team Leader and before that, I was a customer Team Member. I started at the bottom at Co-op and now I’m here on the Management team, so that’s my career with Co-op and Budgens.
“Budgens is a franchise, so we are actually owned by the food retailer group, which is a group specially created for all the purchases of the Somerfield stores. They own the ‘Happy Shopper’, brand which people might recognise from their local convenien ce stores and corner shops . T hat’s because they also own Booker .
“Budgens also concentrates on local produce so – not yet as we have just opened – anything we can get locally we aim to, from down the road.
“Yesterday, on the first day of opening, we had a lot of customers, especially in the morning. We opened quite late, at 9am, just so we could get our final bits ready. We had quite positive reviews – the customers liked it and loved the prices. They also loved the quality as well – we’re very pleased about that and the store looked great.”
Jacob added: “We’ve kept things that worked and what people liked in their old Co-ops, such as the frozen meal deal, roughly the same layout . We’ve kept the same quality of prices and we’ve kept all of our local suppliers, such as the bread and the bakery. A lot of people liked the bakery because it is a Welsh known brand , which is why we have kept that.
“The layout hasn’t changed very much at all from the Co-op . I think the changes have been good , so expect the same shop but a different brand. People can expect the same types of products with all of the same values.
“We are and will be continuing to adapt, and we have a suggestions book at the front of the store for customers to make suggestions for products that they want us to stock and, with regards to the local products, we want to get in as many local products as possible. We haven’t got anything currently as we have just opened, so our range isn’t very demographic, but we’re hoping to change that as we get more and more suppliers, and we already have many ideas -so, time will tell.
“Budgens had a little over 100 stores , but with the purchases of Somerfield stores, it now has 30 stores plus 100 sites. The nearest one to Aberystwyth is Cardigan, which was a Co-op as well and a former Somerfield, closing on the same day as us and opening on the same day as us.
“The company that owns us have really invested in us – they’ve really bought into it . T hey’re very engaged in wanting to make it work and they are very keen to hear what people want and what people think. It’s a very good thing when a company actually cares about the people that shop here. “
Aberystwyth’s Budgens store are encouraging local farmers and local producers in the area to get in touch with them regarding selling their products.
Proposed work on dangerous Dorglwyd Junction set to be delayed
ELIN JONES AM and Ben Lake MP have expressed their frustration following a recent statement from the Welsh Government noting that work on the A487 Dorglwyd junction from Comins Coch, would be delayed.
The junction has witnessed several crashes and close-calls over recent years, with local residents calling for the development of a roundabout or similar traffic-calming measures.
The Welsh Government announced in September 2016 that a feasibility study would be undertaken by the following Summer as to consider potential options to improve the junction.
However, a recent letter from Ken Skates AM, Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport to Elin Jones AM and Ben Lake MP noted: “We are aware of the issues at the junction and an improvement scheme has been within our upgrades programme for some time. Unfortunately, due to limited financial resources and competing priorities, it has progressed slowly.”
“We are currently reviewing the scope of a possible improvement and considering solutions which are affordable and minimise environmental impact. When we are in a position to present outline solutions, a workshop with local stakeholders will be held. This is likely to be in early 2019.”
Elin Jones AM said: “Whilst I do welcome such clarification from the Cabinet Secretary on the next steps for Dorglwyd junction, it is disappointing to read that no major works for the transformation will happen due to the expense of the project. It is positive however to see that a smaller scale improvement is now to be pursued, with consultation likely to be undertaken in early 2019.”
John Roberts, local Ceredigion County Councillor for Faenor ward, added: “I share both Elin Jones’ and Ben Lake’s disappointment at the response from Ken Skates AM. The original plan was to encapsulate a more global project including the Llanbadarn bypass therefore we need to be more realistic in our aspirations for Dorglwyd corner. Having discussed the project on site with both Elin Jones AM and Ben Lake MP last week we were of the opinion that a much smaller project which could solve the Dorglwyd issue was feasible and be much cheaper than the present scheme. We will wait for the consultation period in 2019.”
Museum lights up the past
CEREDIGION MUSEUM has had a full refurbishment of its lighting thanks to £116,558 of grants from Welsh Governments Museums Archives and Libraries Division and the Rural Community Development Fund.
Museum Curator, Carrie Canham, said: “Lighting has been a problem for us for some time; the system was so old that we couldn’t get new bulbs for some of the fittings. Also, we love to put on theatrical and musical performances at the museum but we couldn’t create an atmosphere with just strip lights and footlights. We’ve now got great stage and display lighting and it’s transformed the whole experience for our audiences.
“The new lighting system is all LED, so not only does it look much better it is also more suitable for the more delicate exhibits and it saves us money on our lighting bill.”
The lighting was designed and installed by DBNAudile, who specialise in museum lighting.
The team managed to install the system with minimal disruption to visitors.
KeolisAmey awarded Wales and Borders Rail contract
KEOLISAMEY is pleased that the Welsh Government has announced its intention to award the contract to operate the Wales and Borders rail service and the South Wales Metro to KeolisAmey.
Upon successful completion of a 10-day standstill period, the contract will run from June 4, 2018, to October 14, 2033, with rail services transferring on October 14, 2018.
This standstill period is normal procurement practice.
KeolisAmey is a joint venture partnership of international public transport operator Keolis, and infrastructure asset management specialist Amey.
KeolisAmey currently runs the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in London, which has one of the best records in UK rail – consistently better than 99% reliability. Additionally, we operate and maintain Greater Manchester’s Metrolink – the largest tram network in the UK.
Alistair Gordon, Chief Executive of Keolis UK, said: “This will be a transformative new rail service for Wales and its borders which will see Keolis once more combine its worldwide expertise in passenger operations with Amey’s engineering excellence.
“We look forward to the successful completion of the procurement process – this exciting contract will deliver for all of Wales. The procurement process was rigorous, resulting in transformative solutions for the benefit of all in Wales, and indeed, future generations.
“While the proposed changes won’t happen overnight, the railway will be unrecognisable in five years thanks to the vision of the Welsh Government.”
Andy Milner, Amey’s Chief Executive, said: “Building on our successful partnership with Keolis, which already sees us deliver two high performing services – the Greater Manchester Metrolink and London’s DLR – we are honoured to be asked to operate the Wales and Borders service.
“This is a great opportunity for us to use our joint capabilities to deliver a first-rate service for Wales. We will be focused on working with Transport for Wales to transform the existing infrastructure and introduce new trains to significantly improve the passenger experience, as well as creating hundreds of new jobs and apprenticeship opportunities.”
KeolisAmey is unable to make any further comment until the procurement process has concluded and the contract has been awarded.
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