A FLAGSHIP cash and carry superstore bringing hundreds of jobs to Southampton won’t open for at least another 12 months, the Daily Echo can reveal.
It had originally been hoped a new Costco warehouse would be open in the city as soon as this summer, which council and business leaders had claimed would cement its position as the retail capital of the south coast.
But the low-cost wholesaler says it now believes it is unlikely it will open its giant 13,000-square metre outlet on part of the former BAT site in Millbrook until next spring.
The firm insists it remains fully committed to opening its 23rd warehouse in Southampton, and said the scheme is progressing to plan.
But confirmation it will almost certainly not open this year, as originally estimated, will come as a blow to jobhunters in the city.
The store was one of the planned developments for Southampton where council leader Royston Smith suggested the private sector could provide jobs for hundreds of council workers losing their posts in cost-cutting measures.
It comes as the national unemployment rate has this month hit a 16-year high of 8.4 per cent of the workforce.
When it opens, Costco will create 132 full-time and 117 part-time jobs, and the American retailer was backed during the planning process by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce because it was seen as a boost to the city economy.
Costco’s James Cheesemore said work is still being carried out by the landowners to clear the ten-acre plot, off Regents Park Road, after which building work should begin later this year.
He said: “We’re hoping to open in the spring next year.
“If we can do it earlier than spring we will – we’re still very much committed to the project.
“It was always going to be a long process and we’ve been progressing as quickly as possible.
“There’s been no delay.
“Once we’re on site it wouldn’t take us more than six months to build.”
Costco has argued its warehouse, which will open seven days a week, selling 4,000 different lines, will breathe life into the ten-acre site, which was used for cigarette manufacturing until BAT shut down production in 2007.
The firm has vowed to recruit locally for its positions at the store, and expects as many as 70 per cent of its employees to be under 35.