Rumour mill focusses on Aldi takeover of retail site

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supermarket chain Aldi has refused to comment on speculation that it could be interested in the newly-vacated Focus store.

Rumour is rife that the retail giant - which has yet to make any moves towards the development of its Kirk Street site - would favour existing premises on an established retail park

Focus DIY closed its doors last week, prompting hopes the empty premises could become a long-awaited Aldi store.

The English-based DIY chain went into administration earlier in the year and was forced to close last week when a buyer could not be found for the majority of its 180 stores UK wide.

Around 20 Peterhead jobs were lost after fellow DIY giants B&Q turned down an offer to purchase the branch.

Speculation has now turned to the empty store at Balmoor Retail Park housing the discount supermarket instead. German based Aldi purchased land at Kirk Street in 2008, even demolishing the Kirkburn Mill in January 2009 in preparation for the new build.

Planning permission was granted by Aberdeenshire Council for the supermarket, a number of retail units and a 200 space car park.

But plans have been fraught with difficulties since the recession hit and are now on hold indefinitely as the supermarket giant says it can not find other businesses willing to take on retail units.

The current economic climate, coupled with the lack of access to the town via a dual carriageway have been blamed for the delay in building works starting.

But the vacant Focus store could prove to be the ideal location for Aldi.

Already built and fully fitted, Aldi could move in without much difficulty.

The store would also neghbour main competitor Lidl which could add to the overall shopping experience at Balmoor. It has been suggested that if Aldi move into the old Focus store the Kirk Street site could be sold for housing.

With a desperate need for social housing in Peterhead, it was pointed out at this month’s community council meeting that the Kirk Street site could be bought by Aberdeenshire Council and turned into low cost housing.

Councillors suggested that Aldi should be contacted and reminded that, despite the recession, something should be done about the eyesore at Kirk Street.

Council secretary Gordon Farman said: “The biggest worry is that the flats will be vandalised or burnt down like the Alexandra Hotel in Fraserburgh.”

He said measures needed to be taken to board up all doors and windows so that vandals could not get in.