A wealth of heavy machinery has been industriously putting the finishing touches on Asda’s new multi-million pound superstore at Ferring.
Work on the site at Littlehampton Road had begun in November last year and it is set to become an area flagship for its latest designs, with a total of 500 full and part-time jobs being created.
While concerns have been raised over increased traffic volumes and also over its suitability in an area already served by several major stores, the company is confident it has developed a meaningful programme of community engagement.
Store manager Martyn Gallon, who has previously headed the firm’s Havant branch, believed there was strong demand for its presence in the area, having previously failed to gain permission for a site in Bognor Regis.
He said: “It’s really exciting we are opening here as it is an area we have wanted to be in for some time. I used to live here 20 years ago and remember its former use as a garden centre. I believe we will be offering something that our customers will really appreciate. It is one of the first stores to be designed with our new look and feel which will bring the store right up to date.
“I’ve been following the construction process closely and it has been going well and we’ve taken on some fantastic people to work with us, with only a few final vacancies now remaining. We started recruiting in August and store’s 500 jobs will be creating considerable employment for the area.
Among the key features of the new superstore will be a pharmacy, opticians, bakery, “wellness zone” offering health and beauty products 12,000 square ft clothing area and an extensive electrical department. There will be car parking for 550 vehicles.
As Mr Gallon added, the company, which opens its doors in Ferring from Monday. November 5, has enjoyed a positive response to its community life project. This aims to support a number of charities and not-for-profit organisations across each of its store areas. As one of the most practical means of support, the firm will offer free use of its office space within its training rooms.
He added that Asda especially valued forging business links with companies in the surrounding area and it has actively sought out a number of potential food and product suppliers from directly within the area.
Though many have welcomed the jobs boost at the 60,000 square foot store, the site has not been without its issues. In particular, the company’s plans unveiled this February to place a secondary sewage treatment facility on its site into Ferring rife, prompted considerable concern from residents.
More than 1,500 signed a petition against the proposals, which prompted the company to withdraw the scheme in response to feedback. As a result, the firm has now produced a regular newsletter for residents informing them of any specific alterations to construction timetables.
Construction manager Jani Ishaq, who has been at the forefront of a team of up to 150 people over the past year, revealed its plans were ahead of schedule.
He said: “It’s been going really well since the start of the project, despite having to deal with the second wettest winter on record. We’ve a lot of neighbours here in the area and believe we have a good relationship with them.
One of the biggest challenges has been in creating access to the site, as we needed to create a right hand turn into the site, which we have worked with highways authorities to create.
“We have kept people informed of our activities through our newsletter which we have created for residents. We’ve also tried to assist some of our neighbours including the Ferring Country Centre and we are part of the considerate constructors scheme. We’ve had two inspections under that, which have given us a high scores.”