Co-op stores going head-to-head in Weston-super-Mare

Regulars protested the potential closure of the Bristol House in 2012.

Regulars protested the potential closure of the Bristol House in 2012. - Credit: Archant

Two branches of the Co-operative are set to open convenience stores just a tenth of a mile from each other in Weston-super-Mare, and one of the bosses is prepared to compete with the other.

The Radstock Co-operative is set to open a store at 141 Milton Road, while the Manchester-based Co-operative Group plans to develop on the site of the Bristol House pub, which is situated at 135 Milton Road.

The sites are separated by just 150 metres, with residents questioning the need for two stores in such close proximity.

Though the companies are separate, the branding of the stores is likely to be the same.

Don Morris, chief executive of Radstock Co-operative Society, believes his company’s offering provides an ideal outcome for the community.

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He said: “The real good news story for us would be the community keeps its pub and gets its shop, which is win-win in my book. The alternative is you’re going to lose your pub to get a community store. It’s not as good as what we’re offering.”

The Radstock Co-op store is set to open in early 2017, with planning permission granted to extend the site, while the Manchester branch confirmed its intention to lease the pub from Enterprise Inns.

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A spokesman for the Manchester branch said: “We have submitted a planning application, which allows residents and interested parties to register their views on our proposals in the most democratic manner, and we look forward to the outcome.”

Mr Morris is prepared to compete with the other store. He added: “The planning is in, the contract is signed and we’re going ahead.

“Business is business. We’re going to have a fantastic store here, we’re going to have a top offering. We’re confident in our ability to be able to deliver, whoever is in the area.”

Proposed closures of the Bristol House have proved controversial in the past, with an action group successfully deterring Tesco from taking over the site in 2013.

Mark Thyer of the Save The Bristol House campaign said: “It doesn’t make any business sense.

“There isn’t enough money in the area to support five stores within half a mile. If the pub goes we will lose the community spirit and enjoyment factor – the heart will be ripped out of the community.”

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