New supermarket could open in Cowley

Templars Retail Park

Templars Retail Park

First published in Business Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Business Reporter and Books Editor. Please contact me on 01865 425461

SEVERAL ‘well-known’ supermarkets are in talks about moving into Cowley, according to the owners of Templars Retail Park.

Developers Resolution Properties said DIY chain B&Q could move to a smaller store, leaving space for a supermarket.

Dominic Morgan, a spokesman for Templars Retail Park owners Resolution Properties, said: “We have a current planning application to sub-divide the B&Q unit.

“While our plans for this unit are at a very early stage, one option is to create the potential for a supermarket in part of the scheme.

“We are talking to well known supermarket operators and hope to be able to conclude terms with one of them shortly. The council has accepted the suitability of the site for food retailing. In addition, we are in discussions with B&Q about an alternative-sized store in the same location.”

He declined to name the supermarkets involved in talks, but giant Asda has already announced plans to open a new store at the retail park next year, although it won’t sell food.

The new Asda Living store is being built in the former JJB Sport and Comet units, and Mr Morgan said they expected to let the remaining unit soon. He said the building work would “significantly enhance” the appearance of the park and introduce two new retailers to Cowley.

The Asda Living will create up to 80 full and part-time jobs, selling electrical goods and the George clothing range. Work is expected to finish in time for an opening in mid-April, and managers are already being recruited.

Avnish Raichura, of Asda, said: “The ground floor will sell our George range of clothes and upstairs will be home and entertainment — electrical goods, homeware and furniture.”

The company, a subsidiary of US giant Walmart, is rolling out 150 Asda Living stores in the next five years, and the Cowley store will be the 26th. Asda describes the new-format shops as “small department stores”. Mr Raichura said most staff would be recruited through JobcentrePlus about 12 weeks before opening. It replaces a Comet electrical store which closed in September.

Oxford city councillors recently approved plans to impose parking charges at the retail park, despite concerns.

Cowley councillor Bryan Keen said charges were needed to deter people from parking there all day, and the first 30 minutes would remain free. He added: “In time I can see the shops might refund parking charges on a purchase by knocking something off at the till.”

Mr Raichura could not comment on what Asda’s attitude might be to parking charge refunds.

Aaron Bayliss, of Templars Square, was confident that his covered shopping centre, which is opposite the retail park, would cope with any competition from a new supermarket.

The owners of Templars Square objected to a lifting of a legal bar restricting the retail park to non-food sales, but he said: “We have very loyal customers. “I wouldn’t expect it to have a huge impact because we are strong in our market. We have ridden out the recession very well and the centre is starting to repopulate.”

He said recent tenants included the 99p Stores, which replaced Woolworth; B&M Bargains; and a gym and martial arts academy.

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