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.