Olympic sprint legend Derval O’Rourke cut the ribbon to officially open the 32,000sq ft outlet in Ballincollig, Co Cork. But nine-year-old Bob Murphy, from the town’s Westcourt estate had the honour of being the first person through the door.
Bob trains with his autism assistance dog, Polly, in Tesco’s Douglas branch but his mother, Joanne said he had been watching closely the construction of the Ballincollig outlet over the last few months.
“He doesn’t talk very much but he knew it was finished and ready to open,” she said.
“He is very brand-orientated and Tesco is his brand, and I just thought he would really like to be first in, so I wrote to Tesco, and they were so accommodating.”
They ensured that Bob and Polly were first through the doors when the store opened for business at 8am.
“He was really looking forward to it. And we had a good look around. The store is brilliant for children with autism — it has low-key natural light,” Joanne said.
The new store employs 125 people — 60% of whom are local — with 39 people drawn from the live register, including 11 graduates from the Tesco Positive2Work Programme.
Today we opened our new store in Ballincollig Co. Cork, check out which Olympic athlete came along to open it for us… pic.twitter.com/LfaCj0J8uB— Tesco Ireland (@TescoIrl) October 24, 2014
After the opening, Derval O’Rourke kick-started the ‘Tread-milling for Temple Street’ fundraiser — Tesco’s new charity of the year.
The chain announced a new community fund, which it said would help local charities, and confirmed that the Ballincollig store would feed in to its surplus food diversion project which uses cloud technology at the end of every day to tag surplus food which can then be diverted to charities in need of food.
Sean Quish, managing director of nearby Quish’s SuperValu, said he wasn’t really worried about the increased competition.
“Once competition arrives, you can get obsessed with opposition, and lose sight of what you’re trying to do yourself and that is to offer the best offering you can,” he said.
Emer Cassidy, chairman of Ballincollig Business Association, welcomed Tesco’s arrival and said it would benefit the whole town.
“We would obviously be sensitive of the fact that there are concerns amongst some retailers in the same sector but if we can embrace it, it will help us showcase Ballincollig as a great town for retail choice,” she said. It is the fourth Tesco store to open in Ireland so far this year, after the new Park Pointe in Dublin, the Dundalk Extra store and a revamped Edenderry store in Co Offaly.
Tesco plans to open two more new stores before the end of the year — in Aungier Street and Pearse Street in Dublin.