Tills at the new Morrisons at Neats Court
The new Isle of Sheppey Morrisons store opens its doors for the first time tomorrow.
Just a few finishing touches remain before the first phase of the £30m transformation of Neats Court launches and the Times Guardian was given exclusive access to photograph inside the building last Friday.
Staff were in the store and had been for a week to undertake hands-on training and get everything in place for the big day.
Workers preparing for the opening of the new Morrisons on Monday
Manager Steve Lennox said they have been making sandwiches and pizzas to give the new recruits a chance to learn the ropes. The food is then sold off cheaply to staff.
Machines have also been running as they would do normally, so it is hoped there will be no technical glitches when everything goes live.
“We encourage them to work as though the store was open,” said Mr Lennox. “Some of them have been to their departments in Sittingbourne as well to get some ‘live’ training.”
When we were in the store, there were just a few more grocery deliveries to come and then everything that is not fresh, chilled or frozen will be in stock.
The new Morrisons at Neats Court
The mammoth task of pricing took place at the weekend.
On the busiest days, lorries were turning up every hour for most of the day from the depot at nearby Kemsley, and the queue for the cafe, which is being run as a staff canteen during the training period, was huge.
At the back of the shop there is a warehouse with a large chiller and freezer inside.
“We are exactly where we should be for this stage,” said Mr Lennox.
“It’s been really well done and a lot of that has been because the local stores have supported us.
“I’m so pleased. I honestly thought ‘Wow, this is superb’ when I walked in.
“They have done a first-class job and it’s a really lovely store.”
The KFC restaurant at Neats Court
Customers of the new KFC on the site have been reassured after concerns were raised over a problem with flies.
The fast food restaurant has been plagued by bluebottles, thought to have come from the marshland and made worse because soil had recently been turned over.
Dozens of people have been discussing the problem online and the store was forced to close for a few hours on Thursday and Friday, August 15 and 16, while they tried to sort out the issue.
Area manager Rita Frost said they have had pest control and environmental officers in and have done everything possible to prevent it happening again.
There are fly traps outside and all the vents have now been fitted with meshing to stop them getting inside.
“Unfortunately, it’s just the area where we are and until they build more businesses it will be the ones that are here [that suffer],” she said.
“But we will get rid of them. We are doing everything in our power.
“It’s just unfortunate with a new business and the last thing we wanted but there’s been no problem with the food.
“Everything is wrapped and in covered cabinets. There’s nothing to worry about and if there was any threat I would shut it.”