SUPERMARKET chain Waitrose is to move into Amersham to replace alworths.

General retailer alworths opened a store in Sycamore Road in November, replacing Woolworths after the popular high street name went into administration in 2008.

But the company only signed a short-term lease with the property's landlord and this month were served with notice to vacate.

Alworths is set to close on September 12, with Waitrose ready to open at the start of November.

Landlord Michael Testler said “a number of offers” had been made by companies interested in moving in to the property. He added the addition of Waitrose would be “great for Amersham”.

The new Waitrose will be the first convenience store run by the supermarket company in Buckinghamshire.

Jon Arnold, Head of Convenience Stores at Waitrose, said: “Waitrose have wanted to come to Amersham for a long time and we are delighted to have the opportunity to make a major investment, which can play an important role in the town’s future.

“Our objective is to ensure the new store helps provide a boost to the local economy, not only through new jobs and supporting local projects, but by helping to create a more vibrant high street that will attract more shoppers to the town.”

Up to 60 new jobs will be created at the new store.

Alworths are looking to remain in Amersham and the firm is searching for new premises.

Managing Director Andy Latham said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team in Amersham for their hard work and dedication over the last ten months, resulting in a very successful period of time for us.”

The news has been cautiously welcomed in Amersham.

Nigel Shepherd, chairman of the Old Amersham Business Association, said: “I think it's excellent.

“I have a slight concern we are being supermarketed out, but I am sure the supermarkets have done their research and believe there's a market for a store there.”

He added: “I would be delighted if alworths stays. I see them as a niche and I wish them the best of luck.”

Brian Woods of the Amersham Society said: “We welcome Waitrose but we are rather sad it would appear the landlord has preferred them to alworths.

“We would very much hope alworths can find an alternative outlet site within Amersham on the Hill.”

Mr Woods added he was “happy” the building remains as a retail outlet, after plans to convert it into a financial services business were rejected last year.

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