West Hampstead Sainsbury’s opens as market of 40 years is forced to close

IT’S a tale of two supermarkets with very different endings – one a family-owned West Hampstead business closing after 40 years, the other a branch of Sainsbury’s which opened to an organised fanfare.

After months of shrinking bottom lines, rising rents and mounting competition, Atlanta Food and Wine shut up shop – just as Sainsbury’s, the sparklingly orange nail in its coffin, opened its brand new doors.

Amish Patel, who runs the independent shop with his brother and two other family members, will be going back to college after his livelihood disappears. He said: “We have been here for over 40 years but in February we just decided that it was impossible to keep going – two Tesco’s and a Sainsbury’s have opened in just one year and we just can’t keep going. The competition is too much, especially along with almost doubled rents and doubled electric costs.

“In February we put the shop on the market. Both Costa and Nero are interested so it will almost certainly be a coffee shop. I feel very sorry in my heart that we have to leave – I also feel very sorry for our loyal customers. Many have been coming here for years – especially elderly customers. We are so grateful for their support over the years.”

While the Patel family thinks about their next move the new Sainsbury’s Local at 204 West End Lane, a few doors down from an existing Tesco Express, was opened last Friday by Paralympian footballer Matt Dimbylow and excited children from Beckford School.

Just 500metres from the Sainsbury’s superstore at the O2 centre, it will employ 38 staff – 70 per cent of whom are being recruited locally.

Sainsbury’s store Manager Waheed Ansari said: “I’m really proud that we’re able to bring employment to the area.”

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Hampstead charity One to One, which helps children who are victims of poverty, disease and conflict in Africa, Kosovo, the Middle East and in the UK, has been chosen as the store’s charity partner.