A healthier, greener way to shop around

PUBLISHED: 14:03 03 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:38 07 September 2010

A BELSIZE Park supermarket is being given a makeover by a shopkeeper who has already taken on the might of Tesco and come out on top

Marc Mullen

A BELSIZE Park supermarket is being given a makeover by a shopkeeper who has already taken on the might of Tesco and come out on top.

Andrew Thornton took over Budgens in Crouch End a year ago and began pinching customers from the Tesco next door.

The 44-year-old now hopes he can have a similar impact at his new store in Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park.

He said: "Tesco has a blueprint for what it sells in its stores. It's a one size fits all approach and it doesn't differentiate between Hampstead and anywhere else in the country.

"What we are doing is appropriate for Belsize Park and Crouch End."

He continued: "At Crouch End we made some changes and it worked. Albeit we are a bigger store than Tesco next door, we take a lot more money than them."

To complement the regular items shoppers expect to find in a supermarket Mr Thornton has introduced products from independent producers, sourced as locally as possible.

The stock includes muesli and nuts from Hornsey based Sally Smallwood, bread from Flourish Bakers in Tottenham and cheese from Paxton and Whitfield - the company which supplies the Queen.

Mr Thornton also offers the Cook range of home-made preservative-free frozen ready meals.

He said: "Ready meals have 10 days' shelf life and the reason is they are full of preservatives. Freezing them is nature's way of preserving food.

"Some of our suppliers are very local and we are getting a deli feel. I picked up a lot of my ideas from farmers markets and what they sell."

Two new tills have been put in to the shop and staff have all been given "Delight The Customer" training.

In January Mr Thornton will be launching the Penny For Plastic scheme so that every time a customer declines a plastic bag a penny will be donated to charity.

A similar scheme at his Crouch End store has cut plastic bag use by 60 per cent and he estimates it has saved 250,000 plastic bags.

The shop will sell ethical long-life linen bags and reusable plastic bags for 10p. When they wear out customers will get a new one and the old one will be recycled.

Mr Thornton said: "I think carrier bags are the nastiest things around. Everyone in the country uses 230 plastic bags per year, which is terrible.

"Tesco wants to cut plastic bag usage by 25 per cent by 2008, but we have already done better than that.

"The money we raise will go towards laptops for the Rosary school (in Haverstock Hill). From the money we have raised in Crouch End we have almost built a stage for the local school."

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