A Southern Co-operative store in the Isle of Wight has opened with a focus on local produce.
Following the closure of its smaller store in Freshwater, the store creates an extra 30 jobs and stocks food and drink from over 35 local producers.
The initiative is aimed at supporting the Isle of Wight economy by sourcing locally through its Local Flavours range. The store includes a Fresh from the Island counter where customers can find locally sourced meat, fish, cheese, savoury pies and other products.
Kate Hibbert, The Southern Co-operative’s local sourcing manager, said: “The Isle of Wight is renowned for its quality and diversity of local produce and is where our popular Local Flavours range originated nine years ago; this range has now extended to Hampshire, Sussex and across southern England as demand has increased, promoting local distinctiveness and offering valuable support to local food producers and suppliers.”
Some of the Isle of Wight suppliers are the Tomato Stall, Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight Cheese Company, Catch, Island Bread Company and Goddard’s Brewery.
To mark the opening of the store the Southern Co-operative made a donation of £500 to All Saints CE Primary School in Freshwater. The official opening of the store, which is located in Afton Road, featured Courtney White, a year six pupil at the school. She is the winner of an art competition that asked pupils to illustrate what Freshwater meant to them.
General manager Tony McGuinness said the store has a purpose beyond profit. “It’s really important to all of us here that the store is at the hub of the local community and with our new store opening, we want to continue the strong relationship that we have with our customers and local organisations,” he said.
Over the past five years the Southern Co-operative has contributed more than £100,000 community support funding to local groups including FYTbus community bus service, Freshwater Memorial Hall, Isle of Wight Foodbank, West Wight Sports Centre and All Saints CE Primary School.
It will also have a special Isle of Wight Food Bank donation point. Customers visiting the shop will be able to travel using the FYTbus, which has a dedicated bus stop just outside the store. A free customer taxi phone is also available in the community hub where local news and activities, together with information for members of the society will also be available. The store will provide general post office services and will have a larger Post Office area.
Being environmentally-friendly was another important aspect taken into account by the Southern Co-operative. All store waste will be backhauled on delivery vehicles to be sent for recycling, anaerobic digestion or to an energy-from-waste facility.
Furthermore, the car park surface is permeable to absorb rainfall and minimise puddles, and landscaping is designed to attract wildlife and enhance their habitat through planting and the inclusion of bat boxes and nesting sparrow terraces. The story will also save 40% water through water efficient measures. The electricity used comes from renewable sources and customers with electric vehicles can recharge these in the store’s parking area.