New supermarket will open this year
WAITROSE has confirmed its commitment to opening a supermarket in Ashford later this year, creating 140 jobs. The store is being built as part of the Repton Park development, near the Drovers Roundabout. Waitrose director of development Nigel Keen said: “We welcome the opportunity to invest in development of an important part of Ashford. “The store will be part of a new local centre for Repton Park, as well as serving the wider Ashford area, providing a strong retail anchor at the heart of the community. “Waitrose places great value on becoming part of a town’s fabric and we have worked hard with the developer to ensure this scheme is one that best meets the needs of Ashford and the surrounding area.” Business and council leaders say Waitrose’s decision shows that confidence in Ashford remains high despite the recession and keeps the town’s ambitious growth plans firmly on track. It follows the recent opening by Premier Inn of a 74-bed hotel on the expanding Eureka Business Park, where private developer Quadrant Estates has also just gained planning approval for four new office buildings. Jo James, chief executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, says such is the momentum of Ashford’s development that it would take “extremely severe circumstances” to have an adverse effect. She said: “Ashford is extremely well placed to weather the recession and will probably maintain a healthy trading climate, despite problems arising. “Ashford has so much going for it that I cannot believe things will grind to a halt. The area is in the middle of a massive expansion which was inspired by the quality of road and rail communications with the rest of the UK and with the Continent, and these are about to be boosted by the domestic high-speed rail link to London. “While we should not be overoptimistic, and may suffer some slowdown in the future, I think we can be confident that the circumstances which have contributed to the town’s recent activity are bound to remain in place and continue to boost trading opportunities. Businesses in the Ashford area have already shown that they have the entrepreneurship and ability to take advantage of any opportunities offered.” According to the investment promotion agency Locate in Kent, more than 1,000 jobs were created in Ashford in 2008 across a number of sectors. These included retail, construction and property, business services, leisure and tourism, engineering, financial services and ICT.
A new Waitrose supermarket is planned for Ashford