Morrisons has announced today (Thursday 22 September) that it will be opening one of its first ‘stores of the future’ in Tunbridge Wells. When it opens by Easter 2012, the new style store will be one of Morrisons’ first new era stores to open in the South East.
The Vale Road site by Tunbridge Wells Railway Station will be transformed into a contemporary shopping space, focused on an innovative and wide-ranging, premium fresh food offer, yet still delivering Morrisons’ great value.
Morrisons has embraced more flexible store formats since Dalton Philips, the group’s new CEO, joined the business last year. Value, affordability and freshness remain Morrisons’ key differentiators; in the ‘store of the future’ this is now coupled with a premium range of gourmet foods and high quality culinary produce.
Morrisons’ ‘store of the future’ will offer up to 450 different lines of fresh produce including an array of exotic fruits and vegetables. The Tunbridge Wells store will be modelled on its Kirkstall store near Leeds where it sells ten different types of Chinese greens; nine varieties of loose tomatoes and ten lines of loose mushrooms, including Italian black summer truffles – a first for one of the four big supermarkets.
Morrisons has more people preparing more food in store than any other retailer and the Tunbridge Wells store will have fully trained fishmongers, butchers and bakers - all with expert knowledge of their product areas.
Other important features of Tunbridge Wells’ new Morrisons will be:
- ‘Fresh to Go’ – fresh coffee and freshly squeezed juice alongside a range of freshly made sandwiches, bagels, baguettes and wraps aimed at the busy commuter
- The Butcher – up to 60 varieties of meat including organic lamb, beef and pork, in traditional and more unusual cuts
- The Fishmonger – up to 60 varieties of freshly caught fish and shellfish with exotic varieties as well as local favourites
- The Florist – loose blooms and contemporary bouquets sourced and created by a team of professional in-store florists
- Deli Express – a contemporary deli offer including continental meats and cheeses complete with olive bar
- The Bakery – up to 40 traditional and more unusual varieties of bread sold fresh - baked all day every day
- Ovenfresh – high-quality ‘ready meals’, hot foods and traditional baked produce
- Wines and spirits – a choice of quality affordable wines alongside fine wines and champagnes
Andy Newton, Format Director at Morrisons said: “We are delighted to be opening one of our first ‘stores of the future’ for the South East in Tunbridge Wells. This store will bring together all the best innovations in fresh produce from the UK, the US and Canada.
“Until now Morrisons has not had a format that would be right for Tunbridge Wells. With our ‘store of the future’ we can provide the town with a premium offer, including the widest range of fresh ingredients alongside other innovations we have trialled in our concept store in Kirkstall, Leeds.
“This is Morrisons as you probably have never seen it before, with more surprising produce and an exciting layout but still highly affordable.”
Morrisons works directly with suppliers, sources locally wherever possible and has its own farm. As a result it gets great prices on fantastic products.
Morrisons has submitted a planning application to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to allow certain changes to be made to the store’s exterior and the circulation space to the front of the store. These changes are designed to lighten up the store frontage, improve customer accessibility and significantly enhance the experience of visiting the new store.
Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Councillor Bob Atwood said: “The council has now received a planning application in respect of the Tunbridge Wells Morrisons’ site. It seems our wish to see the end of the saga of the empty store may yet come true. Personally, I am pleased Morrisons has adhered to the timescales we agreed with them. We should not be complacent, but, having submitted an application to make some improvements to the store, it suggests Morrisons is committed to returning to our town.”
Subject to securing planning consent, the new Morrisons would open by Easter 2012. Once open Morrisons will employ around 220 people.