Longyearbyen’s only major supermarket is expected to get a major facelift and expansion beginning next year – and if a potential competitor has its way it may be tougher for folks to see those changes.
A potential market war between two of Norway’s largest grocery chains may be in the works as Svalbarbutikken is planning an upgrade beginning next summer and Rema 1000 is hoping to build a competing store – and place in the parking lot directly in front of Svalbardbutikken.
The upgrade at Svalbardbuttikken will expand the store’s space by about a third, Ronny Strømnes, Coop Svalbard’s strategic director, told Svalbardposten. The storefront facing the pedestrian sidewalk will feature more glass, while priorities for interior expansion besides grovery space include perfume, gifts and souvenirs.
“The reason for the development is that Svalbardbutikken needs more space to operate effectively for customers and employees,” Frigg Jørgensen, Coop Svalbard’s board chairperson, wrote this in August of last year: “The development is meant to meet many needs, not least space in the shop, better working conditions and better selection. Of the most urgent needs, however, is the replacement of refrigeration and freezing facilities.”
It is not known yet if the Nordpolet retail alcohol store will have a seperate entrance. Rema 1000 officials and the owners of Lompensenteret argue Svalbardbutikken has an unfair competittive advantage since people buying alcohol have to enter the supermarket to do so.
Rema 1000 is proposing a store with 1,159-square-meter of floor space divided between two or three stories. The company is seeking to build the store adjacent to Lompensenteret, taking up of the existing parking lot for the shopping center and Svalbardbutikken.
Members of the city’s Technical Committee in February unanimously rejected Rema 1000’s original proposal to use the parking lot for store space, adding the company or other parties would need to submit a detailed plan for the affected area. Rema 1000’s current proposal asserts there would be room for 40 to 45 cars, with up to 70 possible in theory..