Aldi hoping to open third store in Borders and now on lookout for site in Peebles
News that a retail giant is looking to open a new supermarket in Peebles has received a cautious welcome amid concerns that finding a suitable site will prove a challenge.
Aldi, Scotland’s fourth largest retailer, is on the lookout for 19 new store locations across the country and among the towns it has targeted is Peebles.
The discount retailer, already operating stores in Hawick and Galashiels, is on the lookout for freehold town centre or edge-of-centre sites suitable for development.
It says each site should be about 1.5 acres and able to accommodate a 20,000sq ft store with around 100 parking spaces, ideally on a prominent main road and with good visibility and access.
Finding such a location in Peebles will prove a “significant challenge”, according to Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell, however.
Although Mr Bell welcomes the supermarket chain’s interest in Peebles, he is eager to ensure no new outlet would negatively impact on existing retailers in the town’s High Street.
He said: “The real issue will be finding a suitable site.
“I would welcome an interest from Aldi in investing in Peebles – that would certainly widen the retail offering in the town – but finding an acceptable location will be a significant challenge.
“An appropriate site for them will be difficult to find because a business like that requires not just trading space but a certain amount of parking access.
“Peebles High Street thrives on the diversity that there is of the small shops, and I think Peebles is really a lovely place as a consequence of that diverse high street.
“The fact that there is not a large supermarket that is out of town means that people go into the high street to shop and there is a supermarket just around the corner from the high street that then interacts constructively, I think, with that high street, not only providing people with volume grocery shopping but also making it easier for them to access the high street.
“In contrast, in Galashiels I think the high street has been severely disadvantaged by two extremely large supermarkets that I think draw shoppers away from the high street.
“Finding a suitable site for Aldi that retains the vibrancy of the high street is what is going to be challenging.
“I do think Aldi as a chain offers something different from the existing offers that there are within Peebles, but how it could be fitted in, geographically and physically, will be difficult. I don’t know of a location that would be suitable. That is where I’m stuck.”