Exciting things are happening in the centre of Aberdeen, and the old Verspeiders building has been completely revamped and modernised inside in preparation for its launch as a Usave supermarket later this year.
For over twenty years Verspreiders, also known as Hyperfoods, earned and maintained a reputation for supplying staple products at reasonable prices to Aberdeen residents and the farming community. Early last year the owners, Paul and Sharon Landman, sold the building in anticipation of their retirement to Hartenbos, but continued to run the store there until October, when the building became empty.
Pretoria-based businessman Roelof van der Merwe, who has strong roots in Aberdeen, bought the building, and work started in earnest earlier this year to restore the façade and upgrade the interior. Rumours abounded in the town as to exactly what van der Merwe was going to do with the building, but it soon became known that a Usave store would be opening on the property, with initial estimates that it would open in March.
The parking area outside the building was resurfaced at an early stage, and local residents watched with interest and approval as the rather tired-looking exterior was spruced up, with attention to detail on the stonework and fresh paint. New palisade fencing was erected around the building, in a style in keeping with the period, and secure storage areas were created outside for trolleys.
It is the inside however where the most drastic changes can be seen. As Shoprite wanted a more open space, the builders had to completely take out all the inside walls, and huge castellated steel beams were fitted to carry the inside weight of the roof structure. The finished product is a bigger retail area with an extended receiving and prep area on the side where new coldrooms and freezer rooms still need to be fitted. There is also a new staff toilet and kitchen area at the back of the store. In the process the builders had to dig a new drain to accompany the new bathroom area, which involved a fair amount of digging in Grey Street.
For security purposes all the inside doors and windows had to be closed off by brick. However the old shutters and doors were left in place, adding character to the outside of the building. The builders had to take out all the old cement flooring and redo all the floors. New floor tiles and ceilings were installed, the electrical installation had to be replaced, and new water connections established. They also had to build a very well secured back office from where the core of the shop will be managed.
“What I thought would be a quick and small project became a huge overhaul of this magnificent old building. I believe this centre stone of Aberdeen will be of historical value for another century to come” said van der Merwe.
Usave is a division of Shoprite, and is the group’s youngest supermarket chain, focussing primarily on the needs of lower income customers. According to their website,”… the brand removes the cost of packaging and regular store frills and trimmings and passes this saving on to the customer. This gives customers the price advantage associated with bulk buying, without the need to buy in bulk.”
Van der Merwe confirmed that the shop will sell the normal supermarket lines, including groceries, toiletries, fruit & vegetables, electronics and stationery. To the disappointment of many, there will be no bakery, but the usual supermarket brands of bread will be available. There will also not be an in-store butchery, but frozen meat will be stocked. Also in the store will be a Money Market kiosk where customers can transfer funds, buy bus tickets, cash government pay outs, and buy basic over-the-counter medication.
According to Shoprite, they will start with the shopfitting this month, and plan to open for business on Friday 1st September. Aberdonians are eagerly awaiting that date!