Discussions are now underway to try to off-load the mothballed Tesco store in Chatteris after the company announced it was pulling out of the town for good.
Tesco is in talks with competitors to see if any of them want to take on all or part of the £22 million, 47,000 square feet store after dropping the bombshell last week that the store will not open.
Local people have taken to social media to vent their disappointment at the news, and to say what they would like to see happen to the store.
Many would like to see Asda or Morrisons take on the site, while others have suggested a DIY store or leisure complex with a cinema.
Andrew Moule said on Facebook: “Chatteris has a population of under 10,000, most of whom have a lower than average income. A big site like that is going to have to pull in people from other areas in order to be profitable. Anything other than a supermarket is going to struggle. I can’t see it getting filled any time soon.”
Commenting on an online story about the news, Steve Campbell said: “I think it is a golden opportunity for a leisure centre type of development, maybe a cinema or pub restaurant complex, even a skate board park.
“Chatteris is a town with few leisure facilities like this could offer. Perhaps with some compensation from Tesco in lieu of broken job promises, and modification to that awful small roundabout, so lorries can get through without mounting the kerb, it would certainly bring in jobs and money from miles around.”
Also on Facebook, Julia Ringer said Tesco had expanded too quickly.
“They got too big and took their eyes off the ball. They should have opened less stores and concentrated on what they already had.”
Tesco’s decision to permanently shelve its plans for the town was delivered in an email to Fenland Council leader John Clark on Thursday.
Tesco chief executive officer David Lewis said: “It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing we are unable to proceed with 49 planned new store developments across the UK, including our planned store in Chatteris.
“I am very sorry we have not been able to deliver the investment we intended. I know this news will be a real disappointment to many people in your community and we are extremely grateful for the support we have received for our plans.”
Tesco mothballed the store last year just weeks before it was due to open in November. Bosses said it would open in the summer, but a drop in profits has prompted the decision to pull out of the town – as well as close 40 other stores around the UK.
Mr Lewis said: “Our performance as a business has fallen significantly short of where we would want it to be and my absolute imperative has to be to protect the future of our business for the 300,000 colleagues we employ all over the UK.
“I am very aware of the importance of the site to the local area and I am determined that we will work closely with Fenland Council to find the right solution for the community.”
Councillor Clark said: “We are extremely disappointed by this news.
“I am seeking an urgent meeting with Tesco to find out precisely what their intentions are.”