Cafe wars in Nailsea town centre 1
By Carol_Deacon | Thursday, January 31, 2013, 09:52
A Nailsea cafe owner has accused Waitrose of 'unfair competition' by giving away free drinks to its customers.
Gilly dressed at Willy Wonka with her staff raising monies for Children in Need one of the many charities the cafe supports
The myWaitrose loyalty card which started all the furore
And another bites the dust?
Since last autumn the High Street supermarket cafe has been serving free drinks to its customers with a myWaitrose loyalty card.
Competition is fierce in Nailsea town centre with nearly 20 pubs, cafes, restaurants selling or serving food and drink.
Many are operating a loyalty scheme, lunchtime or early evening 'specials', buy-one-get-one-free and discounts for people who work in Nailsea.
Waitrose is the only one offering a daily free cup of coffee or tea without the need to buy anything.
Gilly Chu who runs a High Street cafe and catering business and is president and a long serving member of Nailsea Chamber of Trade & Commerce said: "The small independent traders in Nailsea have, for a number of years, struggled to adapt to price cutting and loss leading sales tactics of Tesco, Somerfield, Waitrose and Wetherspoons.
"We have seen a number of small businesses close for a variety of reasons related to costs/overheads. Higher than average rents, business rates, rising costs of electricity and the struggle to compete with the supermarket or multiple buyer.
"Now the independent cafe/coffee shop faces a larger and more sinister threat – a supermarket which offers a major cafe product free of charge. From our preliminary enquiries we believe that Waitrose proposes to offer a free tea or coffee to all 'customers' daily using a Waitrose loyalty card.
"We use the word 'customers' loosely as there is no obligation to purchase anything from this 'community spirited' supermarket.
"We believe that this is an aggressive sales tactic and a step too far. It is already having a serious impact on local cafes which in turn will impact on other small traders.
"Not only is this practice ethically wrong and damaging to other Nailsea traders, it sets a precedent.
"Are we to see free newspapers, greeting cards, fruit and vegetables or chocolate with no purchase necessary?
"Or shall this 'community spirited big boy' offer free bread or meat from its own butchery counter or any product which has a negative effect on Waitrose profits?"
Waitrose opened to a fanfare in September 2010 and was followed by Wetherspoons in April 2012 although some voiced fears at the time it would lead to job losses and sound a death knell for smaller establishments.
This week a Waitrose spokesman said: "We always aim to complement small businesses in the communities we trade and would never set out to compete with independent businesses.
"The myWaitrose card was designed as a way of rewarding loyal Waitrose customers as they shop - and the free coffee was something our customers across the country told us they would value.
"We are always mindful of the need to trade responsibly wherever we operate."
Thousands of customers who shop at the Nailsea store are believed to hold a myWaitrose loyalty card but the supermarket is unable to confirm how many claim a free drink on a daily or weekly basis.
In an attempt to drum up custom Crown Glass Shopping Centre recently launch its own My Loyalty card.
Others in the town who reward loyal customers with incentives include SP Hair Company, Burchills greengrocers and Parsons Bakery.
Multi national Boots also operates a loyalty card reward system.
And Superdrug and New Look at Somerset Square are among those who give people with a National Union of Students card a 10 per cent discount.
Gilly's cafe offers a 10 per cent discount to people who work in Nailsea.
There are other pubs and restaurants in the town and nearby as well as a Subway fast food counter at Wraxall Service Station but currently catering for people in Nailsea town centre are:
- Great Wall
- Kebab Kitchen
- Ming's Kitchen
- Nailsea Fish Bar
- Asha - OPENED AS A TAKEWAY THEN ADDED TABLES AND CHAIRS. TO LET SIGN APPEARED IN WINDOW MID-FEBRUARY, 2013
- The Golden Horse
- Europa CHANGED HANDS AND NAME NOVEMBER 2012
- Gilly's cafe OPENED IN MAY 2003
- Cafe 119 FOR SALE
- Posh Spice