Chamber Calendar

Find out about all the up-and-coming meetings and events.

Read More

Chamber Calendar

Find out about all the up-and-coming meetings and events.

Read More

Chairman's Message

7th July 2011


As Chair of the Wayland Chamber of Commerce I am often asked by local media to give Chamber opinion and personal opinion (as a local business woman) as to issues which affect the Wayland area.

Take heed I am not, nor ever have been, a fence sitter. Those who regularly attend meetings with me know that I am steadfast and forthright when giving opinion and will never bow to peer pressure to voice the popular view, but I listen and observe and only give quotes after considered opinion. I do not knee jerk and I am not always quoted correctly in the press. I am passionate about local business and endeavour to act in the best interests of local business, even if that is an unpopular call for much needed change; such as the Local High School wanting change to become an Academy (which is a bold decision and one that I personally believe will benefit this community greatly, as long as a strong leadership team is in place to deal with the commercial aspects of running an Academy) or the local Tesco wanting to expand to serve the needs of the local Community.

Tesco Expansion Let’s Discuss:

Like it or not Tesco is a business which has identified that our Wayland Community has expanded through housing development over the past 12 years and as result concluded that the community requires a larger store. The Chamber’s view is that the development and expansion of a business is a positive step, not only to Tesco as a business, but to our Community.

Over the past ten years, our shopping habits have changed. Gone are the days of the make-do society; the new generation want things on demand, either online or on their doorstep at a time convenient to them. Shift workers have the need to shop at a time that fits in with work patterns. If we as businesses do not adapt to the changing needs of society then we become left behind and the worst case scenario is that we fail. It is very clear in Wayland that there is room for both the existing and the new, because one thing we do as Wayland Business is provide a service above and beyond which no major national could ever give.

Let me briefly walk you down the High Street. How could Tesco’s discount books ever compete with the wonder that is JC Books. Yes, Tesco has sold cheap books for years and will continue to do so, but I prefer the experience which is seeking that less popular book, wandering the shelves with your fingers, happening to come across a less popular read, but a great read.

Myhills and Rudlings; I defy anybody to go into one of these stores and not come out with what they seek; whether it be a household item, DIY or garden equipment. No multinational could ever match the courteous, friendly, knowledgeable service a customer receives from these businesses.

Coffee on the High Street is second to none. Tesco’s expansion does not include a coffee shop, so this will not impact out local fabulous Cafés. Also, Wayland clothes shops provide very different products to those which are intended to be sold by Tesco. The truth is local families need children’s clothes, which Wayland business currently does not provide. The gorgeous clothes within Doves are for a very different market than Mrs. Blogs buying ‘F&F’.

Mr. Stephen Smith and our local farm shops. I do not care how many hours a supermarket is open for in a day, it still will not entice me to buy anything other than local meat produce; especially the Award Winning Mr. Smith’s sausages!

It is therefore the Chamber’s view that the expansion of Tesco will have little impact on the majority of Wayland Business and indeed for those businesses where there is crossover of goods it may encourage certain businesses to review their business plans and think more commercially wiser.

What I am concerned about is if we do not see an expansion of the store then families will travel out of the Wayland area to shop; to towns not too far away, like Dereham or Thetford and whilst in these areas shop in those local businesses, rather than ours.

We as a Chamber are concerned about the 24-hour application to open. Largely because it is a backdoor application, not one we as a community signed up to and certainly was not present during the original plans for store expansion. Our concern is not from a business point of view, but clearly there are residential concerns; however, this is a matter for Town and Breckland Council voices not the Chamber.

So is the Tesco Expansion All Good News?

It certainly is not! We at the Chamber are aghast at the 100-hour application to provide pharmaceutical services and we have made our opinion known loudly. It beggars belief that Tesco want to provide a service which is clearly not required. There is currently no shortage of pharmaceutical services throughout the Norfolk region; clearly this service is not required. It is moves like this by Tesco which do not amour it to the Wayland Community. Rachel and Geoff Ray have invested heavily into our Community, not just financially, but with their time and commitment and they employ a good number of local staff. They are truly business leaders and what I completely admire about them is their robust business response to Tesco and their determination to ensure Total Health provides personal services that Tesco never could. With campaigns such as “Know Your Numbers” relating to blood pressure and “Free Health Checks”, Rachel and Geoff serve this community with dedication and passion. I know which pharmaceutical services I will be using, because sometimes “Every Little Helps” and Total Health have earned my pound.

The Wayland Chamber is the voice of local business; that means we consider the impact of new businesses and changes to existing businesses on Wayland business. Clearly our opinion would be more negative if Tesco did not already exist in the town and instead wanted to bring in a new store from scratch, as the impact would truly be greater. But Tescos of Watton has existed for a good many years and there is clearly a community need for its continued existence and expansion. As a Chamber we cannot be blind to that, but what we will continue to do is provide opportunities for local business to network, to promote goods and services and create leads, which will strive to make conducting business easier. We will soon be producing a Wayland leaflet promoting member business and pinpointing where that business is located. This will be available throughout Norfolk and in turn we will be promoting the wonder that is Wayland. Together.

Salena Dawson

Previous Messages