BOSSES at Iceland are in talks to relocate the supermarket to the Kennet Shopping centre, the Newbury Weekly News can reveal.
Last month, this paper reported that the Newbury store will close on December 31 to make way for a redevelopment at the Bartholomew Street site.
This week both Iceland and the Kennet Shopping centre confirmed the two parties are in early-stage discussions to see if a deal can be struck to house the frozen food specialist at one of the shopping centre’s empty units.
However, with negotiations having only just begun, there will be no chance of an agreement being reached at the start of January, Iceland confirmed.
Spokesman for the supermarket chain Keith Hann said: “Iceland remains very keen to secure a site for a replacement store in Newbury, and some discussions have taken place with the agents for the Kennet centre.
“However, these are at a very early stage and a considerable amount of time will inevitably elapse between the closure of our current store on December 31 and the opening of any replacement.”
Kennet Shopping centre manager Mag Williams said the town centre shopping mall would be happy to provide a new home for Iceland, but added that there would be a lot of details to iron out if a deal was to be struck.
“I think a lot of people think we can just let them in, but it’s not as straightforward as that,” she explained.
“They will have certain requirement in terms of space and size and we may have to do a bit of jiggling around with the units to see what would fit.
“But we would be very happy to have them in the Kennet centre.”
Iceland’s current site in Bartholomew Street is due to be demolished before the end of February, with plans in the pipeline to build a new 61-bed retirement complex.
An application to tear the existing buildings down (all except Iceland are now empty) was accepted by West Berkshire Council and work is expected to begin imminently.
However, Newbury town councillor Martha Vickers (Lib Dem, Northcroft) is appealing to the developer for a stay of execution for the supermarket until negotiations with the Kennet Shopping centre have concluded.
Earlier this month, Mrs Vickers, who said she welcomed the redevelopment in principle, wrote to the agents asking them to delay the demolition.
Speaking to the NWN, she said: “I just think it’s a great shame if they close and don’t have a presence in Newbury.
“They provide good and reasonably-priced food and offer a relatively low threshold for the delivery.
“Once you close and you have a gap then you could lose your customers – they find somewhere else to go.
“It would be ideal if they could close when they are ready to move across the road.
“If they can’t halt the demolition then they can’t, but at least we have tried.”