Café owners call for store to drop loyalty scheme

Hazel Garvis and Kim Groves from Cafe 119.

Hazel Garvis and Kim Groves from Cafe 119. - Credit: Archant

TWO cafe owners in Nailsea are urging people to support them or they may close.

Takings at Café 119 and Gilly’s Café have dropped significantly since Waitrose began offering free takeaway coffees to customers.

The supermarket in High Street has installed a coffee machine so people can help themselves to a free hot drink.

Hazel Jarvis, who has run Café 119 for nearly eight years, said: “Our takings have gone down by about £150-200 a day and I’ve just got rid of three of my staff because I haven’t got the work for them.

“It’s also affecting the firms which carry out our deliveries. It’s having a real knock-on effect.

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“All I want to do is tell the people of Nailsea if they don’t support us, there will be no independent traders left.

“I’ve just taken on another seven-year lease. And if Waitrose carries on I will have to turn my café into something else.”

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Gilly Chu says her takings have been affected and she has had to focus more on other aspects of her business to make up for the loss.

She said: “We haven’t got an issue that they are giving away the coffee, but the problem is it’s no purchase necessary so they can go in as many times as they want.

“We’ve lost between £35 and £50 a day on our morning coffee trade.

“People keep saying they don’t want the high street to die, but they are not supporting the independent traders.

“It has hurt us and we’ve lost trade. But we are now concentrating on other parts of our business – giving good quality home-cooked food and our sandwich van.”

Hazel and Gilly have joined other independent traders across the country to call for a stop to Waitrose’s offers, which they believe are harmful to local traders.

A Waitrose spokesman confirmed the free drinks are part of a number of offers for myWaitrose loyalty scheme members.

She added: “Waitrose always aims to work in harmony alongside local businesses in the communities where we trade.

“These offers are only available to members of the myWaitrose club.

“Most businesses offer their customers loyalty schemes which take a variety of different forms. There’s nothing new in what Waitrose is doing.”

Anyone interested in supporting Nailsea’s independent cafes can pop into Café 119 in Station Road to sign a petition.

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