By MICK WHITWORTH
The company behind a controversial regional food store to be opened on the outskirts of Truro is looking for a top-flight farm shop or food hall executive to take the project forward.
The 5,000 sq ft Cornish Food Hall is due to open under the same roof as a 30,000 sq ft Waitrose on Duchy of Cornwall-owned land early in 2014.
Stocking 80% Cornish-produced foods, the food hall will be operated by The Taste of Cornwall, a company owned by a group of local farmers and business people. However, its £2m building and set-up costs are being partly funded by a loan from Waitrose.
Interviewed in FFD’s August edition, published later this week, The Taste of Cornwall chairman Elwyn Jones said he had been visiting quality farm shops in the north of England and was now looking for “a mix of André Birkett [of Chatsworth farm shop] and Heather Parry [of Fodder in Harrogate]” to run the new store, which will include a café and educational demo kitchen.
“We need someone who’s done this before,” he said, adding that he was reluctant to recruit from the supermarket sector. “No doubt they’d have a manual 200 pages thick but they are too regimented.”
The food hall and supermarket form just one element in the £40m Truro Eastern District Centre development, which will include around 100 new houses and a 1,300-space park-and-ride.
It has met vocal opposition from campaigners who say it will pull more shoppers away from the town centre. But Jones said that market research and street surveys suggested more than 80% of locals were “overwhelmingly in favour” of the scheme.
He said the location of the Cornish Food Hall was designed to put regional food onto the radar of “the 97% of people who buy everything from a one-stop, one-trolley supermarket”, not those who would continue to buy from specialist independents.