A MAJOR supermarket chain hopes to open a branch in Wallsend this year.
Asda is taking over Netto UK, including its Hadrian Road store in Wallsend, subject to approval from the Office of Fair Trading.
The move looks set to end shoppers’ two-year wait for a big-name supermarket in the town.
Townsfolk were left disgruntled after the closure of the Co-op in the Forum Shopping Centre was followed by years of procrastination by Morrisons about taking over the site.
Since the closure of the Co-op in spring 2009, Wallsend has been without a big-name supermarket.
Bradford-based Morrisons put up signs announcing that it was opening a new branch there soon after the Co-op shut, but it has backpedalled since then, leaving the site vacant and its plans shrouded in uncertainty.
Asda now looks set to fill the gap left by its rival’s indecision.
Its planned new branch will be less than half a mile away from the vacant Co-op store, and the supermarket giant has promised that customers will be able to complete a full weekly shop there.
Asda, part of the US-based Wal-Mart chain, has also pledged to ensure that prices in the smaller stores such as Wallsend’s are identical to those on offer to Asda shoppers elsewhere.
Judith McKenna, Asda’s chief financial officer, said: “The good news for shoppers here in the north east is that there’ll be no premium to shop in one of our smaller stores.
“We’ll charge the same low prices you’ll find in any of our stores.”
The 12,000sq ft branch will stock a wide range of own-label foods.
The store will be open by late autumn, and that news has been welcomed by shoppers in Wallsend.
Wallsend Residents’ Association chairman Florence Kenny said: “I am very pleased to hear the news that Asda will be opening in Wallsend, as are the elderly residents in the town.
“We can’t wait for it to open. The sooner the better.”
Asda will also be taking over Netto’s North Shields branch in Saville Street.
About 20 new jobs are expected to be created at the two new stores.
Ms McKenna added: “Today is another key day in our plan to bring Asda to more customers in many more communities in the north east.
“We’re delighted that we’re one step closer to welcoming over 200 local Netto colleagues into Asda, and look forward to welcoming many more in 2011.”