We need a supermarket choice

Jempsons, Rye

Dear Sir
Can someone please explain to me why another supermarket in the Rye environs keeps being thwarted at the planning stage?

Our one and only large one has a monopoly and folk have very little choice except for the market on Thursdays and a couple of excellent smaller shops like Salts Farm shop and The Deli.

I personally would like a choice of produce and brands and also be able to pop in on a Sunday if I needed to.

Carol Macdonald

Image Credits: Rye News library .


  1. One must agree with Carol McDonald, competition is healthy for everyone,sadly there is very little in the town, regarding shopping and fuel, nowonder so many shop online,or out of town.

  2. Yes, Carol – it can be partly explained. Tescos, Sainsburys and I believe Jempsons have all acted to prevent competition by buying up properties that would affect access to potential sites. According to Col Kimber from the Rye Neighbourhood plan team no supermarket currently has any interest in setting up in Rye except for a very low level interest from Lidl, market research suggests there is not enough demand to make it viable. Rother District Council had assessed that a second supermarket was needed but I believe that may have been re-assessed. By the way, I completely agree with you, perhaps things will improve now Jempsons are stocking Co-Op products

  3. I stopped shopping in Jempsons when they started charging for parking. It was no loss to me as I find them overpriced anyway with produce left out for sale way past it’s best.

    I still fondly remember the original Jempsons in Peasmarsh which was a wonderful shop full of fresh produce reasonably priced. It sold unusual food items as well, now sadly replaced with unhealthy packaged processed muck. A second choice of supermarket for consumers would be wonderful.

  4. I would also like to add that in addition to the shops Carol has mentioned, we also have a very good green grocer who also opens on Sunday mornings, Williams and Sons at 46 Cinque Port Street. Likewise, The Lazy Baker operating from The Whitehouse on the High Street offers freshly made bread daily (some of the best in the county). Costcutter’s had been planning a major expansion but that seems to have been out off. All in all, I am not sure we need a second supermarket. Many are dissatisfied with Jempson’s and I would mostly agree they are overpriced and offer less of a selection than Sainsbury’s or Waitrose (or Tesco for that matter) but it does not seem to me that there is enough year round business to make a second supermarket viable. I would also be concerned it would have a negative effect on some of the smaller shops.

  5. First it should be said that the Neighbourhood Plan reflects the view of many in the Community – but certainly not all – that a second supermarket/food outlet (with or without a petrol station) is desirable to provide competition, longer opening hours and choice. I am not sure that it is correct to use the term “thwarted” because market forces have prevailed. Although there have been much earlier proposals, in recent years, both Tesco and Sainsburys competed for the Lower School Site but both withdrew because of planning and commercial issues and a change of policy towards smaller convenience stores. Simon Parsons is correct is saying that no other retailer, except BP with the prospect of a food outlet partner, has shown recent interest in coming to Rye. The Plan as written reflects all this and much more, including the identification of a site should a retailer show interest in the future. When considering existing general food outlets, Jempsons and Costcutters, do include the convenience stores on Tilling Green, which provide an excellent service to those, mostly in the West of Rye.

    For RNPSG

  6. As Simon said, there simply isn’t the demand for a second supermarket in a very small town like Rye. If you want a choice of supermarkets there are nearby towns you could move to. Why live in a pretty rural town like Rye and then expect it to have multiple supermarkets? It’s pretty astonishing that in such a small town we have a large, recently modernised supermarket with ample parking, located close to the centre of town, with an emphasis on local produce to boot.

    And if you don’t like the Sunday closing, you’ve said yourself that the deli and Salts Farm shop are open. So are the Costcutter and Tilling Green convenience stores, and the Winchelsea Beach Co-op. If you’re able to use the internet to complain, you’re also able to use it to shop online at any of the large chains or online specialists–what you save in time, petrol, and lack of impulse buys will more than make up for the modest delivery fees, and delivery times run from early in the morning to late at night (including Sundays).

    As for the choice of brands, Jempsons has a selection of the major ones. Any large chain supermarket would stock overwhelmingly its own brands, especially the low-cost ones like Aldi and Lidl–and then Rye residents would be complaining because their favourite brand was a different one they couldn’t get at the chain store. How about counting our blessings for a change?

  7. Also agree with you carol but like to add a few other things that were missing in Rye,firstly eating and drinking in rye now is very costly in our pubs and restaurants.seconly highest petrol prices for miles.
    Thirdly our supermarket prices is also one of the dearest along the south coasts,and of course as everybody knows we have no other in rye especially on a Sunday I really feel sorry for the young families in Rye.
    It no wonder these young couples I see when I’m shopping are in other supermarkets rather than shop in Rye.
    Fourthly as for banks in rye I don’t think I will raise this matter as we all know about waiting and queuing up in the one and only building society that opens every day the other 4 banks are either closed or part time
    With the closure of the British legion many years ago then the Brewers Yard club closed and sold on,just lately Club Horizon Discotheque and the Granary club all gone
    I suppose its the sign of the times
    So really we haven’t got a lot choice unless we move out of Rye
    Sad really

  8. Jempsons subject was in the Rye news a couple of years ago, at the time I suggested folk should get on the 100 bus to Ore & shop in Aldi’s, staying on the bus a little longer will take you to Lidl where at either shop you will save yourselves pounds. (door to door service).

    • According to the Stagecoach website the cheapest return bus ticket from Rye to Ore would be the Dayrider ticket at £7.00. You obviously need to set that against your savings.

  9. Living in Rye 60 years ago was a very different experience, my mum shopped almost exclusively up the town, the choice of shops was comprehensive with no need to go anywhere else.
    One thing to note was that my parents like the majority in Rye were working class, prices had to reflect that.
    A trip to Hastings was a rare treat and usually meant a visit to Wards for school uniforms followed by lunch in Demarco’s
    These days shops in Rye do appear to cater for the higher earners and those who have retired to Rye having bought homes here.
    I could be completely wrong of course but I doubt it.
    Could Rye support two super markets?
    Tenterden and Hawkhurst have two, Jempsons had a shop in Hawkhurst, maybe they don’t like competition?

  10. Rye has a higher population than Tenterden and Hawkhurst and both towns have two mainstream supermarkets so why can’t Rye have two? There seems to be loads of spaces on the road to Rye Harbour. So why should customers have to get on the bus and travel 10 or more miles?

    [Note, 2011 census shows Tenterden civil parish has population 7,735 Hawkhurst 4,911 and Rye 4,773 and unlike Rye both of the other towns have relatively well populated and prosperous hinterlands. Rye has the sea and the marsh]

    • Because there is one in town already and the staff at Jempson’s are to be applauded and thanked for doing such a brilliant and potentially dangerous job in these difficult times!

      As are the other food stores – a great greengrocer, and brilliant butcher, a fab deli, local mini-market stores on Tilling Green and at the Salts, plus the pet food suppliers, and including pubs and restaurants who are providing takeaway (and delivered) meals! And the newsagents and all other front line services.

      Thank you one and all for showing such dedication to our small town an all its citizens in our hours of need.

  11. Yes its sad Rye has stood still for years,and just become a second home town for so many,despite the hundreds of houses that have been built over the last few years, i say support local shops, but there is very little choice here,unless your a visitor of course, inflated petrol prices, certainly comes to mind,as everyone else cuts theirs. Sadly as ive said before in another decade,we will be another Clovelly, where the curtains move, but there is nobody in, i certainly despair for this once thriving local community, that is sadly dying before our eyes.

  12. Jempsons are certainly doing a fine job,serving the citizens of Rye, and the reason people say they do not open on sundays is because of their religious beliefs,but with churches in lockdown,and many of the smaller shops not open on sunday,wouldn’t it be nice for them to waive their beliefs,whilst this virus continues,so people working in the nhs and other important jobs, could visit their store,instead of going out of town,to do their shopping on a sunday.

  13. I agree that Jempsons are doing an excellent job but can I also give a shout out to the people at Costcutter? They are surprisingly well stocked for such a small shop and their staff work long hours and are unfailingly friendly and efficient.

  14. If you want a store with owners who have excellent manners, nothing is too much for them to help you, very polite and respect you then shop at Tilling Green Premier store. We’re lucky to have them.

  15. I have shopped at Jempsons for forty years and value the service they have offered. Their ‘Achilles’s Heel’ has always been the family’s refusal to countenance Sunday opening. I respect their reasons but it is almost certainly the reason they could not survive in Hawkhurst once Tescos arrived on the scene. I do think it is unfortunate that if Rye can only support one supermarket it should be one that imposes such a restriction on its customers.
    I am also grateful to take advantage of the efforts Jempsons are making to set up home deliveries for their customers in the present crisis.
    Chris Roberts.

  16. I remember it was Jempsons that stopped competition in Rye long ago after the pub and a house purchase. They sent their bus around the surrounding villages to collect shoppers and bus them free to their Peasmarsh shop. They even told the driver to stop right outside the shop in Northiam to pick people up ( I remember that didn’t last long) The free bus is long gone but of course so are the majority of local shops, Northiam being an exception despite Jempsons turning up there and moving into a carpet shop.
    I look at Beckley and wonder where all the shops went and then remember the free bus was a regular visitor. I won’t go on.
    Rye council itself did not help the recent applications from the big shops. Playing them off against each other and basically wasting both their time and money. It’s gone on for so long I forget ll the ins and outs.
    I am not a Jempson shopper and never will be, I consider the damage they have done too much for me to forgive. An opinion that I have built up over many years.

  17. Apologies for the short reply – this thread has been bought to my attention

    Dear All,

    Thank you for your comments.

    Hawkhurst – the reason Jempsons exited this village was nothing to do with the introduction of Tesco and nothing to do with Sunday Trading. I’d be quite happy for you to contact me 01797 230 214 to explain the reasons.
    Sunday Trading
    I was told way back in 1978, just after leaving school, Jempsons would never succeed if they continued closing on Sundays. Is it an Achilles Heel? – consider the benefits – there are many!
    We are now in a National Emergency. As such Jempsons have skelton groups of colleagues in some stores accepting deliveries and replenishing shelves. This has been in place for 2 weeks and been done with full colleague cooperation.

    Bodwik (Mr/Mrs/Miss?)
    Please contact me and I will go through the full details on the Jempsons Bus Service – believe me, events were nothing like you have outlined above! We ran this for many years at the request of and with the full approbation of Rother District Council, (they did not subsidise it). Changes were only made when internet shopping came to the fore. I would be quite happy to talk you through the history of the bus service in detail when ever you want – it was me that set it up!

    Stopped competition in Rye? – please explain!

    Best wishes and kind regards to all,


  18. Well said Mr Jempson. Your civility does you credit. Would also like to point out to Mr/Mrs/Ms/Count (?) Bodwick that Rye (Town) Council had nothing whatsover to do with the supermarket land dealings at the old Lower School Site in Ferry Road. The land was owned by East Sussex County Council and all dealings were between the supermarkets and that council done (quite rightly) in private and away from the public gaze and it would be reasonable to say that ESCC had little interest in what Rye Town Council thought or said on the deal.

  19. Ever since Jempsons took over Budgens, there seems to be a love hate relationship with some people in this town, the positives is the nice big extension to the Rye store, and the very competive petrol prices at their peasmarsh petrol station, which we lack in Rye, the negatives which would be nice if mr jempson could explain to us all, is why have Rye got a lottery terminal,but peasmarsh have not, and the second issue, he talks about competition, so why when Tesco were about to apply for planning permission to open a store at Slade Yard, did he purchase derelict old building, which stopped Tesco’s access to Slade Yard.

  20. This “conversation” started with a story in January and it is now April – and it would be “foolish” to allow it to continue. As Town Councillor Andy Stuart has reminded us we nearly had a supermarket on land sold by East Sussex County Council for which Rother District Council gave planning permission – but the warring supermarkets meant it never got developed.
    Instead on-line supermarkets arrived with home delivery and I regularly see Waitrose, Ocado, Tesco and Sainsbury’s vans around town. Indeed (unless I’ve spent too long in the Waterworks) I’m sure I’ve seen a Tesco bus picking up shoppers and, judging by three of the shops I visit in Rye, the only monopoly appears to be the Co-op. This conversation is now over. Charlie Harkness, acting Editor, Rye News.

  21. Where I agree Rye needs another supermarket, simply because it’s very much needed on a Sunday, holiday catering and in general many key workers shop on a Sunday. I respect the reasons why Mr Jempson does not open, that’s his choice. But, the people of Rye and visitors need a choice too.
    both Jempsons shops are very well stocked and hold a variety of food, not always the cheapest, but still a very good selection. Their alcohol selection in Rye Surpasses itself. Obviously Mr Jempson appreciates good wine!
    It would be just perfect if they opened on a Sunday. We might all then shut up about having competition.

  22. We do visit rye on a regular basis although not recently because of the virus we are house bound we love this little town indeed we have thought about moving there ! So hopefully in the future we may live our dream

  23. For someone who has recently moved to this neck of the woods I can honestly say I welcome the ‘quietness’ that Rye provides. Having moved from Orpington where Sunday was probably the busiest day of the week with all the Supermarkets rammed, Sainsbury’s,Tesco, Waitrose I would say be careful for what you wish. If you want more traffic on a Sunday then Supermarkets are the quickest route! I find Jempsons quaint but get everything I need and with a tiny bit of planning I don’t often have to shop on a Sunday and if I do there is always the Coop in Winchelsea. This is nothing to do with religion just a battery recharge for the rest of the week.

  24. @Ronald Bailey. I totally agree. As another recent to the area, Sundays are pleasant and peaceful. Jempsons are entitled to close on Sunday if they wish. It gives staff a day off when their own family and friends are likely to be off work. The supermarket is open long enough during the week for people to plan their shopping. Worst case, grab a few things in a convenience store and wait until Monday.

  25. Hello from Appledore! I have to agree with Garett Dundon, Jempsons are perfectly entitled to close on a Sunday, if personally, it doesn’t offend you to shop on Sunday, there are many shops which are open in Rye and towns which really are not that far away.
    As a Christian myself, I completely understand Mr Jempsons reasons for closing on a Sunday.

  26. Honestly, local people should be heartily thankful that Jempsons was there for them during the past eighteen months. I had not previously been much of a fan but Jempsons’ performance during the pandemic was brilliant. Their policies and protocols for keeping shoppers safe, their delivery service to the vulnerable and shielding, the friendly and personal touches shown by the staff have kept me going back. Rye and Peasmarsh are lucky to have had such a service on the doorstep and not had to rely on the sometimes hard to book provision of big chain home delivery or the risk of travelling to bigger stores further away. And of course there has also been comic entertainment as Peasmarsh underwent a number of re-fits, resulting in hilarious searches for goods that often turned up in the most bizarre of settings!

  27. Jempsons have been brilliant in the pandemic. I have used both Peasmarsh and Rye stores throughout and have always felt safe; their staff have been exemplary: kind, courteous and brave at having to deal with some very ignorant customers (I won’t go into how many times I’ve heard arguments about masks, or just plain stupidity from wandering fools). I never understand why everyone complains: can’t go shopping on Sunday – get a life and organise yourself (although there are Cost Cutter, Tilling Green stores and Williams green grocer open – all excellent). Want to shop at Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Tesco’s, Ocado? All deliver – even on Sunday. Oh and the comment about Tenterden is ridiculous – it has twice the local population of Rye and is surrounded by a large wealthy demographic: Rye has a few struggling villages and the sea.

    Charles Harkness is right – let’s stop moaning, and support local business and shops and celebrate the difference of Rye – Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas Sunday’s … boom, boom …


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