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Sales quadruple as Budgens returns to Harleston

PUBLISHED: 11:17 05 July 2018

Residents and staff join owners the Lawrence family to celebrate the completion of the complete rebuild of the Harleston Service station. Picture: Ian Carstairs

Residents and staff join owners the Lawrence family to celebrate the completion of the complete rebuild of the Harleston Service station. Picture: Ian Carstairs

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Shoppers have flocked to the new Budgens store after it re-opened in Harleston as part of a £1.25m redevelopment of Lawrences Garages.

Carol Wiles and Annie Chapman with the Lawrences at the new Harleston service station. Picture: Ian CarstairsCarol Wiles and Annie Chapman with the Lawrences at the new Harleston service station. Picture: Ian Carstairs

After a 16-week closure the site in London Road, now known as Lawrences Budgens, has re-opened as a state-of-the-art Esso filling station with a Budgens more than double the size of the previous Spar shop.

The site was re-opened by a trio of local ladies from Harleston. Carol Wiles MBE and Annie Chapman BEM were joined by former forecourt operative Marjorie Coleman, aged 84, who retired when the previous garage was demolished in March.

Site owner Ben Lawrence said they had already seen a four-fold increase in sales since re-opening.

The new service station and Budgens store in Halreston. Picture: Ian CarstairsThe new service station and Budgens store in Halreston. Picture: Ian Carstairs

“It’s been over a year in the planning,” he said. “We were due to start in January but we finally got under three months ago. It’s a complete re-build on what was there before. It has been exhausting but it has been received really well.

“We have already seen sales quadruple from what they were before and we are now looking to take on more staff. It’s a nice problem to have.”

The town’s previous Budgens store in Bullock Fair Close closed in August last year when it was taken over by East of England Co-op.

Marge Coleman (centre) with Carol Wiles MBE (left) and Annie Chapmen (right) cuts the tape at the reopening of the new Lawrences Harleston Garage with Budgens. Picture: Ian CarstairsMarge Coleman (centre) with Carol Wiles MBE (left) and Annie Chapmen (right) cuts the tape at the reopening of the new Lawrences Harleston Garage with Budgens. Picture: Ian Carstairs

Mr Lawrence said: “A lot of people love Budgens and they have said they are pleased to see it back in the town. We had a Spar shop before, we are now franchisees of Budgens, but we are a local business and we are trying to get that personal feel.”

The Lawrence family has been involved in garages in Norfolk since 1919. They previously ran businesses in Sheringham and Norwich.

Mr Lawrence said: “It’s a family business. I am the fifth generation. We have been in Harleston for 20 years but we wanted to do something that would last another 40 years. We wanted to show we are in it for the long haul. If people see that businesses are prepared to invest in Harleston, hopefully they continue to shop in the town.”

The garage also includes a car wash and ground work for future electrical charging points.

“Electric cars are still in their infancy but planning for 40 years we wanted to be ready for when the technology advances,” said Mr Lawrence.

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