Waitrose is to reopen again on Thursday 15 August at 8am. When fire gutted part of the building on 21 July it was thought that rebuilding would take “somewhere between four weeks and three months” according to staff manning the barriers to the site after the fire.
Now, just over two weeks later, the damaged part of the building – which, for those familiar with the store, is mainly the fresh fruit and vegetables sections – has been closed off, allowing customers and staff access to the remainder of the store which only suffered smoke damage.
Chris Reynard, Waitrose Wellington’s branch manager, said: “The fact that we’re able to re-open next week is testament to the hard work and skill of a lot of people who we’d like to thank.
“We’re very grateful to those that raised the alarm in the first place, the emergency services for their response and our customers, partners, neighbours and local people for their understanding and support during this time. We’re all looking forward to welcoming customers back into the shop.”
A security guard at the site said, “The cafe has been closed temporarily and the fresh produce will go there whilst rebuilding goes on.”
Richard Pitman (24), a local resident, was charged with arson at Taunton Magistrates Court in July and has been remanded in custody prior to appearing in Taunton Crown Court on 19 August.
Firefighters from Wellington Fire Station who fought to bring the blaze under control will be present when the store reopens and presented with a £5,000 cheque from Waitrose for the Fire Fighters charity.
Report: Gill Paltridge