Leominster business asks residents to "let us grow"

A COUNTY business which is "bursting at the seams" is asking Leominster residents to let it grow.

Thomas Panels and Profiles – a third generation family business based on Leominster's Southern Avenue – is on the site Morbaine Ltd would like to turn into a superstore.

Morbaine will hear whether their application is successful in the new year but Tricia Thomas, director of Thomas Panels and Profiles, says the move would allow her business to grow.

"We came to the town in 2004 with seven employees but that has since increased to 70," she said.

"We are working within the very tight constraints of this building in an old feed mill and we are bursting at the seams.”

Morbaine would be funding the relocation of Thomas Panels and Profiles to new purpose-built premises in Leominster – a "hub" for the steel frame building industry according to Tricia.

"Our message would be to 'let us grow'," she added. "It’s the most amazing opportunity for us."

The developers believe the store would deliver substantial benefits for Leominster including improving customer choice for food and grocery shopping as well as drawing in shoppers from outside town.

It would also employ 200 permanent staff as well as enabling Thomas Panels and Profiles to stay in Leominster and hire extra staff.

The Cheshire-based developer says it would provide £1m for town centre improvements and enhanced foot, cycle and bus links.

Alex Brodie, of Morbaine, said: “We are asking residents to support our plans for a new food store on Southern Avenue which will improve their choice for grocery shopping in Leominster without damaging town centre traders.

“The impact of a Southern Avenue store on Leominster would be overwhelmingly positive – it will guarantee local jobs, create new ones, provide substantial funds for investment in the town centre and bring new shoppers into the town.”

But the Friends of Leominster – a group opposing two applications for superstores in Leominster – has maintained that a new superstore would be a bad thing for the town.

Joan Thwaites, a spokesperson for the group, recently said: “Leominster already has three supermarkets. Retail impact studies show a diversionary new out-of-town shopping complex would have a terrible effect on town centre stores and shops.

“Reduced footfall in Leominster town centre would be bad news for businesses of all kinds.”

Comments (3)

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10:57am Sat 21 Dec 13

AylestoneVoice says...

So every business that wants to expand needs a retail development to fund it. What a load of old claptrap. This is all generated by the developer Morbaines who think that the Council will determine the planning application based on the pleas of the Thomas's rather than the main issue of whether this is the proper site or what Leominster needs. They actually are probably right in that thought
So every business that wants to expand needs a retail development to fund it. What a load of old claptrap. This is all generated by the developer Morbaines who think that the Council will determine the planning application based on the pleas of the Thomas's rather than the main issue of whether this is the proper site or what Leominster needs. They actually are probably right in that thought AylestoneVoice

12:29pm Sat 21 Dec 13

RichHadley says...

The supermarket developer's PR spin doctors are going into overdrive in the run-up to the planning committee vote, earning a dishonest crust.

Every time a supermarket application goes in the cunning PR people dangle the prospect of jobs and business expansion to deflect attention from the ruinous consequences of their out of town retail developments on town centres, independent retailers and the wider economy.

In Ledbury, we had the exact same script trotted out by Galebreakers who wanted to sell out to Sainsbury's (plus they stood to gain a few million quid in their back-pockets in the deal). They said 'let us expand or we'll move out of town + if you don't grant planning permission we won't be able to grow and create employment'. Two years down the line, Galebreakers (as will Thomas Panels) are doing fine thank you very much in their perfectly good premises.

The reality is that out town superstores destroy jobs, not create them - 276 on average according to government research. That's why the Government's 'Town Centres First' policy remains at the heart of planning and should be the guiding principle of planning committee decisionmakers at Herefordshire Council.

Psychological coercion like the supposed loss of hypothetical future jobs (as well as the outrageous threat by Morbain boss of the costs of a planning appeal to the Council) while deplorable is par for the course when it comes to supermarket development. They don't care about local communities. They are driven by their own intense desire to generate profit.

Keep steady Herefordshire Council and focus on the real issues facing Leomisnter - supporting the town centre, the impact on existing retailers, local producers and the tourism economy - not to mention the of building a big ugly retail shed on prime industrial land.
The supermarket developer's PR spin doctors are going into overdrive in the run-up to the planning committee vote, earning a dishonest crust. Every time a supermarket application goes in the cunning PR people dangle the prospect of jobs and business expansion to deflect attention from the ruinous consequences of their out of town retail developments on town centres, independent retailers and the wider economy. In Ledbury, we had the exact same script trotted out by Galebreakers who wanted to sell out to Sainsbury's (plus they stood to gain a few million quid in their back-pockets in the deal). They said 'let us expand or we'll move out of town + if you don't grant planning permission we won't be able to grow and create employment'. Two years down the line, Galebreakers (as will Thomas Panels) are doing fine thank you very much in their perfectly good premises. The reality is that out town superstores destroy jobs, not create them - 276 on average according to government research. That's why the Government's 'Town Centres First' policy remains at the heart of planning and should be the guiding principle of planning committee decisionmakers at Herefordshire Council. Psychological coercion like the supposed loss of hypothetical future jobs (as well as the outrageous threat by Morbain boss of the costs of a planning appeal to the Council) while deplorable is par for the course when it comes to supermarket development. They don't care about local communities. They are driven by their own intense desire to generate profit. Keep steady Herefordshire Council and focus on the real issues facing Leomisnter - supporting the town centre, the impact on existing retailers, local producers and the tourism economy - not to mention the of building a big ugly retail shed on prime industrial land. RichHadley

8:59am Mon 23 Dec 13

fordshire77 says...

Be under no illusion Thomas's the same as other larger construction companies are at a disadvantage in this part of the country as the links to motorways is poor and transport cost are going up meaning some of there competitors who happen to be closer to the motorway links have the edge.
If small companies like Thomas's are not allowed to move locally to grow then sites in Worcester (close to the motorway link) will look very attractive.
As for the supermarket, well with the Leominster area increase of migrant works probably due to double in the next 5 years and with a lot more houses being built on that side of town and traffic though the town is bad at most times of the day a supermarket on that side of town I think would be a good thing.
As for local businesses, there only small shops and majority of them are specialists in there field and employ 5/6 people against Thomas's who employ 70 (and maybe double that if they move) and a supermarket who would employ 200+, the time to make a stance has come and gone (like 20 years ago), we have to embrace change and the future you only have to look at what’s has happened in Hereford, for years and years the council done nothing to keep business local and now after large present have all shut there doors or gone bust they build a new shopping centre, unfortunately 10 years to late as Worcester and Shrewsbury have so much more to offer than Hereford and if Leominster don’t embrace this change it will be a dead town within 10 years!
Be under no illusion Thomas's the same as other larger construction companies are at a disadvantage in this part of the country as the links to motorways is poor and transport cost are going up meaning some of there competitors who happen to be closer to the motorway links have the edge. If small companies like Thomas's are not allowed to move locally to grow then sites in Worcester (close to the motorway link) will look very attractive. As for the supermarket, well with the Leominster area increase of migrant works probably due to double in the next 5 years and with a lot more houses being built on that side of town and traffic though the town is bad at most times of the day a supermarket on that side of town I think would be a good thing. As for local businesses, there only small shops and majority of them are specialists in there field and employ 5/6 people against Thomas's who employ 70 (and maybe double that if they move) and a supermarket who would employ 200+, the time to make a stance has come and gone (like 20 years ago), we have to embrace change and the future you only have to look at what’s has happened in Hereford, for years and years the council done nothing to keep business local and now after large present have all shut there doors or gone bust they build a new shopping centre, unfortunately 10 years to late as Worcester and Shrewsbury have so much more to offer than Hereford and if Leominster don’t embrace this change it will be a dead town within 10 years! fordshire77

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