Sunday 18 March 2018

Shoppers flock to new Tesco store

Anne Campbell

THOUSANDS of eager shoppers flocked to the Tesco Extra store at the Ramparts on Saturday morning keen to get a look around the most advanced and state-of-the-art supermarket the retailer has in Ireland.

From early morning, the 1,000 car parking spaces at the centre, which is on the site of what was known locally as the Old Shopping Centre, were full, with extra staff being drafted in to guide drivers to any available parking spots.

Despite the near-Biblical rain, Dundalk people were more than happy to brave the elements to ensure they could say they had been to the opening of one of the most anticipated retail outlets the town has ever scene.

The opening of the store comes exactly 40 years after Tesco first came to Dundalk, in only their second development in Ireland at that time.

Any thoughts in Tesco heads that the town might not be excited or bothered about the opening of this super-store had melted away by mid-morning, as queues continued into the car park and tills beeped constantly with happy shoppers.

The Tesco Extra store has been many years in the planning and development and it was, according to Michael Sullivan who is the company's PR representative, 'a perfect launch'.

Costa Coffee, located inside the store, was doing huge business, while the staff who were in charge of the F&F clothing section, designed to be more like a department store concession rather than an aisle alongside the cornflakes, reported a 'roaring trade' with 'the changing rooms more or less full all morning'.

In addition, Traynor's Butchers and Hickeys Pharmacy, which are located 'outside' the Tesco supermarket, but inside the complex, also received a boost in trade thanks to their proximity to the retailing giant. Chapz Barbers is also located inside the store itself, along with the Tesco-branded pharmacy.

One of the other innovations immediately noticeable in the Tesco Extra store is the fact that the bakery, deli and impressive butcher's counter have been taken away from their traditional spots at the back walls and relocated to the middle of the ship where they are free standing.

Mr Sullivan revealed some of the many futuristic details contained in the supermarket, which is Tesco's most advanced in Ireland.

'This is really a 21st century store and the majority of the initiatives you can see, but there are some that are not as visible. For instances, if you look at the chilled area, you will see white tubes going up to the ceiling. The cold air falls to the ground, but the pipes are catching it and bringing the colder air around to other areas of the store that need to be cooled like the computer room or offices'.

There is even a 'nano-coating' on the glass that provides the light from skylights and the glass sides of the shop that allows light in and keeps heat out.

In addition, the artificial lighting in the store can automatically dim when it is sunny outside. All these measures are designed, collectively, to reduce the carbon print of the shop and to save on energy costs.

'Dundalk has the first purpose-built community centre in any of our stores in Ireland. We have converted spaces in other stores, but this is the first purpose-built one and we are offering it to community-based groups in Dundalk to use for free for meetings or fitness classes or whatever they like.

Tesco Extra Dundalk has promised to allocate €1,000 every six weeks for local charities, with the cash coming from the supermarket itself, not from customers.

Mr Sullivan said: 'We are absolutely delighted with the reaction from the public. This will add a new dimension to shopping in Dundalk. I think it will be a great boon to other retailers in the town centre'.

The Argus