Grocer feels strain
PUBLISHED: 13:13 02 February 2007 | UPDATED: 22:33 28 May 2010
A COUPLE who run the only independent greengrocers in Whittlesey are watching their takings tumble because of uncertainty over the future of the Kwik Save store from which they trade. Neil and Veronica Watson, of Wisbech, are in the unique position of lea
A COUPLE who run the only independent greengrocers in Whittlesey are watching their takings tumble because of uncertainty over the future of the Kwik Save store from which they trade.
Neil and Veronica Watson, of Wisbech, are in the unique position of leasing a section of the store for their business, Alice's Fruit Sales Ltd.
In the six years since they took over the lease they have invested heavily in new fixtures and fittings. Customers using the store to do their weekly shopping have been more than happy to buy their fruit and vegetables from Mr and Mrs Watson.
Now shoppers at the Whittlesey store are turning their backs on Kwik Save where shelves have been left empty, and are heading for Peterborough and March to shop.
Mr Watson said problems began when Kwik Save split from the Somerfield Group in February last year and was sold to a private consortium.
"My trade is down between 15 and 20 per cent on what it was," he said. "Because they haven't got the amount of people coming in, I am losing out. I cannot find out what is happening. They don't answer my letters. I would like to ask for compensation but what can I do if they won't answer my letters?"
Attempts by this newspaper to get answers for the Watsons also failed. The Kwik Save press office said management was unavailable for comment.
Mrs Watson says some regular customers come into the store just to buy their fruit and vegetables but she is missing out on passing trade.
She said: "Our biggest concern is how it is effecting the whole town because people are not coming into Whittlesey to shop. Most of our produce is fresh from the fields from local growers and wholesalers. We support local growers but this is having a knock-on effect."
Mr Watson said it would be impossible to find suitable alternative premises in the town which are large enough and with a delivery area at the back. The couple have six years left on the lease for their current shop but have been left wondering what the future holds.