Co-op ‘pushing out’ smaller Cuckfield business

Wealden stores are down on sales. Co-owners Janine Watts and Dawn Hall. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150127-121727001
Wealden stores are down on sales. Co-owners Janine Watts and Dawn Hall. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150127-121727001
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Despite dedicated support in the community, a shop which sources much of its produce locally has seen a drop in sales since a Co-op controversially opened next door.

Last year Co-op predicted that Wealden Stores at Whiteman’s Green, Cuckfield would not be affected when it made the unpopular decision to relocate in the village.

The supermarket later decided to keep both stores.

Co-owner of Wealden Stores Janine Watts said the store has seen difficult times since Co-op opened, admitting ‘there has been a drop in sales’.

“It is going to have an impact, you’ve got two Co-ops and one small shop. We were here by ourselves before,” she said.

“They reckon it won’t affect us at all, but they’re pushing out smaller businesses everywhere so I’m not sure how they can say that.”

The building Co-op took over was formerly pub The Ship Inn, and residents campaigned to ‘save The Ship’ last year.

During the campaign, shoppers said they were concerned about the potential impact on Wealden Stores.

And when the Middy asked the Co-op about impacting local trade, a spokesman said: “We would reiterate that in our experience, there is no evidence that relocating from one store to another nearby will impact on other local traders.

“Indeed, we have found the greater choice of products on offer at a larger, relocated store helps to retain spending within the area, and often draws in other shoppers to the benefit of all local businesses.”

Co-op declined to comment on the impact it is having on local trade.

Janine continued: “The Co-op has taken some business in different areas. We’ve had to change a bit, some things have fallen off.

“Quite a lot of customers are going to buy some supplies, ordinary things.”

She is unsure how damaging the Co-op will be, as January is usually a slow month.

“ People are supporting us and I think if they continue to do so we will be OK,” Janine added.