Feb 22 2012 by Judith Tonner, Airdrie & Coatbridge
TESCO opened its doors at Airdrie retail park last Thursday and marked the occasion by making a donation to St Andrew’s Hospice.
Shoppers immediately flocked to visit the town’s new supermarket and were piped into the store on its first morning, while gifts were presented to the first male and female customers waiting outside at 8am.
Provost Tom Curley performed the official opening by cutting a ribbon at the front of the store, watched by staff and local dignitaries.
Hospice fundraising director Katie Mulgrew received a £1000 donation from store manager Russell Houston to mark its opening day.
She said: “This is a huge boost for us, especially in the current climate, and we’re very grateful for the support of businesses.
“We’ve had great support from Tesco branches in other communities over the years, and we’d love to work with the staff and customers at the Airdrie store.”
Provost Curley added: “It’s great to see another unit in the retail park being used, and the supermarket has provided a big boost for jobs in the area.”
The new store features clothing and electrical departments and a cafe, in addition to food and fresh produce counters.
It employs 200 staff, with around a quarter transferring from other branches and the rest being new to the company; half of the Airdrie employees are from the ML6 postcode area.
Tesco revealed ahead of the store’s opening that they received 2100 applications for the new posts – equivalent to 15 for each available job.
Manager Russell Houston was thrilled to see the store packed with opening-day shoppers after weeks of hard work to get ready for the opening.
He told the Advertiser: “This was an empty shell seven days ago, so to get to this position we’ve worked 24 hours and had support from local staff to deliver this.
“It’s been really exciting and it’s great to see our customers getting the best out of it; the support we’ve had from them is fantastic.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by how much the people of Airdrie have invited us in; we’re conscious we’re the new neighbours and we’ll work very closely with the community.
“Our staff are delighted that this store is coming to the community and we’re really looking forward to the days ahead.”
Pamela Nash, the Airdrie MP, was also among the guests at the opening and had also been invited to a preview evening at the store for neighbouring residents.
She said: “I’m really impressed by the finished store; it’s a good thing for Airdrie as the issue of the town centre is one that comes up all the time.
“The retail park needed regeneration to compete with other facilities, and it’s an improvement for neighbours who’ve been looking at an eyesore since Focus closed down.
“I’ve been speaking to local people who’ve got jobs here so this opening has made a dent in local unemployment, and provides another reason to shop in the town centre.”