TESCO’s new Sunderland store finally opened today.
The massive Tesco Extra store, in Newcastle Road, opened to the public at 8am before an official ceremony which saw Mayor of Sunderland Coun Robert Heron join manager Tim Howell to cut the ribbon and present a £1,000 cheque to Karen MacLennan from the Grace House appeal.
Manager Tim, who has 27 years’ experience with Tesco and is launching his fifth new store, said: “We are delighted the opening is here and we are able to celebrate our launch with the Sunderland community and by supporting such a fantastic local charity.”
The development has seen a major overhaul for the retail park at the Wheatsheaf junction, with some buildings refurnished and others – such as the bowling alley – gone completely.
The new-look park has been named Sunderland Gateway and Tim is confident it will be a major success.
“We are incredibly proud to be a part of this retail development and we want to ensure we offer Sunderland shoppers a convenient and friendly place to shop,” he said. Today’s opening ceremony brings to a close a process which started when Tesco snapped up the former Vaux brewery site on the other side of Wearmouth Bridge more than 10 years ago.
The supermarket giant spent a decade locked in dispute with Sunderland City Council and the former Sunderland Arc regeneration company over its plans for the site.
The wrangle finally ended in June 2010, with confirmation that Tesco had agreed to develop the Wheatsheaf site and sell the Vaux land to the council. The final exchange of contracts in 2011 paved the way for work to begin on both sites.
The Vaux plot has been cleared in anticipation of a developer being appointed, and work began earlier this month on a project to realign St Mary’s Way, allowing the road’s current path to become a pedestrianised area.