New Belsize Budgens owner vows to 'continue caring for people’
Stefania Di Cio`
- Credit: Budgens/Danielle Booden
The past and present owners of Budgens in Belsize Park have reflected on previous successes and looked ahead to future plans – after the supermarket changed management on June 16.
Andrew Thornton, the founder of Heart in Business, owned the shop for 14 years, during which time he worked with the local community to improve the store’s sustainability and green credentials.
“We were the first in the country to start charging for carrier bags and to put doors on all our chillers,” Andrew said, after selling the store to the Kavanagh Group.
The eco-minded businessman won the Grocer Gold Awards 2019 for pioneering plastic-free products.
“We were first in the country and second in the world to introduce plastic free zones, with some 2600 plastic free products,” he said.
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“We had a fantastic response from customers and major supermarkets from all around the world came to visit us.”
Andrew said it has been important to have “good quality food for the diverse community” of Belsize Park.
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When Covid-19 hit, the supermarket started a telephone and delivery service, aimed at elderly customers without internet access.
“It was amazing that people from the community volunteered to help us deliver the stuff,” Andrew said.
Budgens also had slots in the early mornings for NHS workers.
“It was very important for me and the team that it was sold to someone that was going to care about the community. I wanted it to remain independent and the Kavanagh values are very much caring for people," the former owner said.
“They have plans to take it up to the next level in terms of amazing food.”
New owner Noel Kavanagh Jnr, managing director of the Kavanagh Group, said: “It is a fantastic store and Andrew has done fantastic work and our plan is to continue along those lines.
“It’s a store that is different and it is strongly embedded in the community.”
Noel is planning a phased refurbishment starting next summer.
“We are looking at around £2 million investment. All the refrigerators will be replaced, which will significantly improve our carbon footprint, and we will improve the plastic-free zones.
“We will keep all that is good and working in the store, like the post office.
“We will continue to have conversations with Andrew, particularly on sustainability and food trends.
“We aim to bring in a shiny new store to the community of Belsize Park, with the most up to date food offer and food solutions.”