First Tower store may win reprieve

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Channel Islands retailer SandpiperCI, which owns the Checkers Xpress store at First Tower, was told to shut the store by the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities in June as a condition of being given the go-ahead to add Costcutter shops to its portfolio.

CICRA had rejected a previous bid in March because it felt it would give SandpiperCI too many stores.

However, when the retailer applied to turn the First Tower store into residential accommodation, residents appealed for it to remain open.

Having listened to the residents’ concerns Tony O’Neill, chief executive officer of SandpiperCI, said they have now asked CICRA to reconsider its decision.

‘We’ve got until the end of March and we are keeping the store open until then,’ he said. ‘We don’t want to have to close it as we have always wanted to keep it open, but we are legally required to close it down. We have had a lot of calls from residents asking us to keep it open and I have spoken to many myself.’

Ted Vibert, head of the First Tower residents’ committee, said he is waiting for CICRA to reply to a letter he sent requesting a meeting, where he and other members can argue their case for keeping the shop open.

Mr Vibert added that at the moment it is not clear whether CICRA are authorised to meet with him and some of the other committee members, including four St Helier Deputies, who he hoped would give the campaign added ‘political support’.

In addition to Checkers and Costcutter stores, SandpiperCI has franchise deals that include Costa Coffee, Iceland and Jack Wills. The retailer also recently acquired iQ, the only official Apple product re-seller in Jersey and Guernsey.

In a statement CICRA said: ‘We appreciate that consumers may be impacted by the closure of this shop and the issues Sandpiper face in seeking to meet its obligation in this case.

‘We’re currently discussing options with Sandpiper which may include allowing them to retain the First Tower store.’

The announcement was welcomed by First Tower resident Tim Barrass as he says residents rely on the store for everyday items.

‘Many of us, including me who can’t walk very far, rely on this essential outlet for electricity top-up, newspapers, milk, bread and food,’ he said.

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