One of the most environmentally-friendly Sainsbury's stores in the country will open this week (Wednesday 16th February), boosting local employment by 150.
Not only has the store launch provided this significant employment boost to Hythe, with 150 new recruits taken on and a further 25 transferred from nearby Sainsbury's stores, but the store will also the home of an environmental first.
Sainsbury's brand new 38,665sq ft store on the former Smiths Medical site will help to ease strain on the National Grid thanks to its innovative 'Smart Grid' system. The system monitors the grid and activates the store's biofuel generator when there is an increased demand for electricity. As a result, reserve power stations will not have to be used as much and the UK's carbon footprint will be reduced.
Neil Sachdev, Sainsbury's property director explains: "To ensure that both consumers and businesses have enough electricity at all times, power stations are kept on stand-by, ready to come into action when required. The trouble is that two-thirds of the UK's stand by power comes from high-carbon-emitting non-renewable sources.
"By introducing this technology, we will cut the UK's dependence on fossil fuels, reduce our own energy costs and reduce our CO2 emissions."
The store also includes a TU clothing and homeware range and a full range of fresh food counters, featuring a deli and pizza counter where customers can choose their favourite pizzas and have them freshly prepared in front of them.
The store will be officially opened by pupils from Brockhill Park School and two of Hythe's oldest residents. Charles Cole, the oldest member of the Rotary Club (101), will be joining Winnifred Smith (101) from Highfield Home. Winnifred is an extra-special guest. "She attended the Bybrook store opening in 1992 and unfortunately fell and broke her hip," explained Store Manager Alan Jarvis. "I hope she'll have a better memory from this store opening. It's going to be a fantastic day, and we're really looking forward to meeting our customers and becoming part of the community."
The store hopes to make a large and positive impact on the community too. Alan Jarvis has already been in touch with several community groups to see how Sainsbury's can make a difference. "We've just donated £5,000 towards Demelza Children's Hospice's Christmas party for 150 children, which contributed towards fancy dress, toys, balloons, amongst other things," explained Alan, "and we're delighted to welcome representatives from the charity to the opening day to help cut the ribbon.
"That's the sort of thing we hope to be helping other community groups with in the coming years, and have already met representatives from the local WI, Scouts and Brownies and the Rotary Club, plus many more, to see how we can support them. We're also looking to name our charity of the year soon after we open, so will be interested to hear from local groups."
The store has already kicked off its community support with a £2,400 sponsorship of the Rotary Club's Round the Houses May Run and sponsorship of the Venetian Fete later this year. It has also been working with pupils at Brockhill Park School to create wall art of Hythe scenes in different seasons that will go on display in-store.