A town in Kent looks set to welcome the county’s first Amazon grocery store.
Amazon Fresh is due to open soon in Sevenoaks, making it one of the first checkout-free stores outside of London.
The store, advertised by the online giant as offering a “seamless grocery experience”, is believed to move into the former Baby Gap outlet in Bligh’s Meadow.
Although official details are scarce, several job openings have been posted for “retail associates” for a Sevenoaks store.
There are also hints of a new future for the former children’s clothing store, which has undergone extensive work behind blocked windows.
Council planning documents show that permission has been granted for interior and exterior works on the site.
This includes new automatic sliding doors, new outdoor advertising signs and a projecting sign inside.
Sevenoaks District Council leader Cllr Peter Fleming said the combination of job vacancies and work done suggested Amazon was indeed for the town.
“It is clear that the former Baby Gap store has undergone the level of work that would certainly be required for what is described as the next generation of store,” he added.
“It looks increasingly likely that the former Baby Gap store in Bligh’s Meadow will be one of the first Amazon Fresh stores outside of London.”
The Times reported last year that Amazon plans to open up to 20 new stores a year from 2022, with deals for 25 locations already agreed.
The online retailer has boasted that its new stores are the first in the UK to feature ‘Just Walk Out (JWO) technology’, which automatically detects when products are removed or returned to the shelves, and keeps track in a virtual shopping cart. .
“When you are done shopping, you can simply leave the store. Shortly after, we will debit your Amazon account and send you a receipt,” a spokesperson explained.
Meanwhile, his 4-star store has closed in Bluewater – less than six months after opening.
Customers were offered curated displays of items rated 4 or more stars, top sellers, or products that were trending online.
Featured products cover consumer electronics, toys, games, books, kitchenware and housewares.
Cllr Fleming speculated that news of Amazon’s latest business venture would not be welcomed by many in Sevenoaks.
“Overall, I think it will be a positive addition for the city”
“Amazon has its detractors and the idea of this type of shopping experience won’t excite some of them,” he explained.
“The positives, however, are that Amazon Fresh’s partner supermarket is Morrisons, which will hopefully mean a better range of products and prices for city dwellers – including myself – who tend to shopping from meal to meal rather than attending the traditional ‘department store’.
“It also shows great confidence in the city as a destination, for those who have seen the secret works taking place it is obvious that this has been a very expensive redevelopment.
“Overall, I think this will be a positive addition for the city.”