A POST office is set return to Brockenhurst after a convenience store company announced it would be opening one at its new outlets in the centre of the village, the A&T can reveal.
Richard Dance and his wife Karen, who run the Welcome chain, have taken over the former Sainsbury’s store on Brookley Road.
It is due to open on 25th March, with an in-store post office to follow in the summer.
“It’s really good and hopefully will bring a bit of vibrancy into Brockenhurst high street,” Mr Dance said.
“Hopefully we will get a boost from customers coming into the post office, since people from the village have been having to go elsewhere.”
The move has been welcomed by Brockenhurst Parish Council’s deputy chairman, Cllr Michael Harris, who is also the cabinet member for business on New Forest District Council.
“This is very good news for the village and we look forward to welcoming them into village life,” he said.
Welcome was started by Mr Dance’s parents and he got involved in the business more than 30 years ago when he was 23.
He and his wife also run Welcome outlets in Marchwood and Ashurst, and said the one at Brockenhurst was a chance “to do things a bit differently” and stand out from its competitors.
“We are not Tesco, who are a big convenience retailer, so we are not trying to go toe-to-toe with them,” he said.
“Rather, we are doing things slightly differently as we are a bit more agile than them, so can get more local suppliers involved.”
To help attract shoppers the store will offer a wide range of products, along with environmentally-friendly initiatives.
He explained he recently gave a lecture at Brockenhurst College, during which students made suggestions as to what the shop could do for them.
Following their responses he would be offering meal deals, a Tango machine and alternatives to plastic packaging.
As a gift to villagers they will post a cotton bag to every household, and the shop will also feature an outside tap where pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists can refill bottles.
Mr Dance was also pleased to confirm Welcome has signed a deal to sell Cook products, an independent and popular socially conscious frozen meal chain that does not deal with major retailers and promotes healthy lifestyles.
Since the closures of the post office and the Sainsbury’s store, the parish council has been working behind the scenes to encourage shops back to the village.
Mr Dance, who is 56 and has moved to Brockenhurst in the past year, was particularly grateful to the parish council for its help in making the deal happen.
“It’s been quite heartening to have their support and they were very encouraging,” Mr Dance said. “Knowing you have got such support behind you does give you extra confidence that you are doing the right thing.”