The 2022 Tesco due in Chatteris is the delayed 2015 service
- Credit: HARRY RUTTER
Seven years after paying £22m to build it -before mothballing it - Tesco is finally to open in Chatteris.
It was one of 49 axed as part of a cost cutting programme but, in a surprise move the company has announced that its budget discount offshoot Jack’s that opened there will close.
And it will be revamped and given the full Tesco ‘make over’ saving not only the jobs but most likely expanding its workforce.
All 13 Jack’s stores will close but Chatteris is one of the six to be saved and re-open as a fully-fledged Tesco.
But they won’t be asking the community to repay the £20,000 negotiated by Fenland District Council as compensation for not opening in 2015.
Tesco also gave Whittlesey £20,000 at the same time to say sorry for not opening there at the same time.
One other reason for retaining – and now expanding – its presence in Chatteris could well be the reported £1million a year rent to the private equity fund that owns the freehold.
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On Monday Tesco abandoned its ambitions for a bargain basement chain of supermarkets by announcing the closure of all13 Jack’s stores.
Tesco chief executive Jason Tarry said: "We want to thank our Jack's colleagues for all they have done and taught us.
"Our priority is to find roles within our wider business for all the colleagues who want to stay with us."
The Jack's brand was launched by former chief executive Dave Lewis in 2018 to take on the surging growth of German discount rivals Aldi and Lidl.
And they selected Chatteris – which had previously won permission to become a Tesco superstore – as its inaugural branch.
Tesco said it "learned a tremendous amount" from the business, which was named after founder Jack Cohen, to help it understand the discount operating model.
Back in 2018 hundreds waited in the rain for the official opening of the first Jack’s budget chain store at Chatteris.
Cars were ditched on grass verges as bargain hunters rushed to the entrance, where upon walking into the 12,000 sq. ft shop, they were greeted with 20p donuts and 50p pizza.
Manea based Harrier Developments, run by Robert Sears, fought to get permission for the Tesco on Fenland Way but only won the day after agreeing to reduce to scale back the proposed size.