A FAMILY firm which has become a Sheffield institution could be forced to close - as staff fear it is to be turned into a supermarket.
Plans to alter Williamson Hardware in Broomhill by changing part of its use from office to retail and ‘updating’ the building have been submitted to Sheffield Council.
The firm has been operating for 52 years, but owner Andrew Williamson fears the plans will lead to loss of his lease when it comes up for renewal in November next year.
He said: “The only way the landlord can get us out is to redevelop the property or to use it for his own purposes.
“We have been told that the unit won’t go to anybody else but Sainsbury’s. That could take out the other smaller shops in the area and mean the end of Williamson.”
More than 50 people have objected to the plans from landlord Staghold.
Residents say a supermarket would increase traffic and parking problems and that there is no need for another grocery shop.
One wrote: “I’ve been using the shop regularly since arriving in Sheffield as a student in 1975 and continue to visit. I believe we should be encouraging independent local traders who feel a responsibility to both their customers and staff.
“There are other national chain supermarkets within easy reach, but nothing comparable to Williamson, which is as much a local amenity as a retail outlet.”
Generations of the Williamson family have worked at the store on Fulwood Road, which employs 13 staff and is in the Broomhill Conservation Area.
Mr Williamson said there had been a flood of support, but objections needed to be on business grounds to affect a decision.
He said: “It’s very upsetting.
“Many people have got emotional about us being forced out but that doesn’t cut any ice with the planners.”
Staghold. of London, was unavailable for comment.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said there were no confirmed plans for Fulwood Road but ‘it is a location where we may be interested in opening a small shop should the right site become available.’