A contentious store will be opened by the Lord Mayor of Chester in the city centre tomorrow morning (Tuesday, November 18).

Cllr Bob Rudd will be joined by a Roman centurion at the opening ceremony for the new Sainsbury’s Local in the former Tessuti unit against a background of animosity from some traders who fear it will undermine independent businesses.

Fears have also been raised the convenience outlet and off-licence will encourage street drinking but Sainsbury’s says it takes its role in the community extremely seriously. As standard, store colleagues are trained to operate a ‘Think 25’ policy to ensure alcohol is not sold to anyone under 18.

The Sainsbury’s Local, which has taken eight weeks to construct, has also decided to make Chester Aid to the Homeless (CATH) its charity of the year.

Store manager Dave Rees-Hughes said: “I am really excited about opening our doors to customers. The new store means a greater choice for locals and a handy place to pop in. We are also happy to announce CATH as our charity of the year; we have already donated money towards the decoration of their premises.”

Chester city centre manager Peter Lewis said “Sainsbury’s is a household name and will clearly attract shoppers to Watergate Street. The more people we attract to Watergate Street the better, for Sainsbury’s and all the other retailers.”

Split across two levels, customers will enter the first floor store from street-level on Watergate Street via escalators and an accessible stair lift. The store opens tomorrow and daily from 7am until 11pm – with the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9am. It will offer a wide range of products including fresh fruit and vegetables and baked goods. Deliveries to the store will be made via Goss Street at the rear.

Sainsbury’s, which will employ 18 people at the store, is dedicated to recruiting locally. Joanna Spooner, from Huntington, who has been newly recruited through a Chester back-to-work programme, said: “Sainsbury’s has a reputation as a great employer and I am thrilled to be back at work.”

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