SUPERMARKET giant Aldi has confirmed that its Haddington town centre store will close when its newly-approved store on the edge of the town opens later this year.

Aldi has been based on the town’s Whittingehame Drive for 12 years but staff are to move to the planned Gateside Retail Park, on the town’s western edge.

The new store, which will be 50 per cent larger than the existing shop, is part of the retail park planned for Haddington, which will also feature The Food Warehouse – which is part of the Iceland brand – in one of the five units.

Home Bargains and Costa are also thought to be keen to move to the site, where work has yet to start on the development.

Jan Wilson, chairwoman of Haddington’s community council, was disappointed by the closure of the town centre Aldi but not surprised.

She said: “I thought that they would not run two stores.

“I just feel it is a shame for the Nungate side of the town because a lot of the people could be elderly.

“They might not have a car and I just feel it is a shame for them when they had it on their doorstep.

“I don’t know what will happen to the shop when they give it up – whether they will sell it or not, I don’t know.”

The retail park, which will include three major retail stores, two restaurants – including one with a drive-thru – and about 300 parking spaces, was approved last month.

It forms part of a sizeable transformation to the western entrance to the town, with hundreds of new houses being built either side of the B6471.

A Starbucks drive-thru, to the east of the retail park, was also approved in recent months, while a petrol station and shop, to the west of the retail park, has also been given the green light.

Ward councillor Craig Hoy said: “Aldi was a key local lifeline for many Nungate residents and older people living nearby.

“I hope that what comes next continues to serve local needs and does not further challenge High Street retailers.

“Haddington is changing fast and it is vital we don’t lose the facilities in our town centre that make it distinctive and attract to people living throughout East Lothian.

“With the Gateside development having been given the green light, I will redouble my efforts to ensure I do all I can to stand up for High Street.”

And he added: “It’s vital that those who live here, and those who move here, continue to have access to a sustainable town centre which offers a choice of independent, high-quality retailers. That’s what I love about our town centre and I will fight hard to preserve it.”

Currently, the Haddington store employs 17 members of staff, with that number expected to increase slightly in the new store.

Aldi announced at the beginning of the year that it planned to open six new stores across Scotland during 2020 –including at Haddington.

It is also building a £25 million storage and chill facility in West Lothian to service its outlets.

Nationwide, that will see 200 new jobs created, although the number of new jobs in Haddington is expected to be minimal, with existing staff moving from Whittingehame Drive.

Aldi confirmed to the Courier that it owned the Whittingehame Drive site and that “a purchaser has been identified” for it.

“However, any intended [future] use [of the existing store site] is unknown to Aldi,” said a spokesperson.

Richard Holloway, Aldi’s regional managing director for Scotland, said: “This is an exciting time for Aldi as we plan for the next 25 years.

“Our new state-of-the-art storage and chill facility will be fully operational by the end of April, which will aid our expansion across Scotland while allowing us to increase the range of Scottish products available on our shelves.”