GROWING competition in the supermarket sector across Swindon put the Tesco Extra superstore in Ocotal Way first in line for a programme of nationwide investment across the chain.

Supermarket groups have been targeting Swindon heavily in the past 12 months, with Waitrose opening up near Wichelstowe in April and Morrisons in Eldene last February.

Morrisons is also scheduled to open its Regent Circus superstore before Christmas and Aldi is also advancing with its plans for a new store in West Swindon.

The flagship Tesco store in Swindon was pumped up the list of those due for major renovation works in response to this mounting competition, according to personnel manager Campbell Hutchison.

Speaking at the official relaunch of the supermarket on Tuesday Mr Hutchison said: “We are one of the earlier stores to go through with that programme of investment.

“There’s new competition opening, but there’s also the fact the store needed it. 2008 was the last time it had any work done.”

The two major changes for the store have involved the installation of a coffee shop and restaurant, in the shape of Harris + Hoole and Giraffe respectively – both are companies which Tesco owns shares in.

Among the retail changes there has been a fresh pizza counter installed, food-to-go range made available, with existing departments benefitting from a new look.

Work began in May and lasted 14 weeks, when the store was fully opened again for business last Thursday.

There was disruption, as expected for customers, but sales were not hit as hard as first feared, according to Mr Hutchison.

“There was an upheaval in the store, but we minimised disruption for our colleagues and customers, and in fact the stats show our reconstruction team minimised the disruption,” he said.

“We would expect for people to stop coming through the front doors or go to our competitors and lost sales, but we only lost a third of what we expected.

“This was all due to the way it was managed and minimised.”

Mr Hutchison also said 638 employees had benefitted from the investment into the store, with new uniforms for each and every one of them.