A SUPERMARKET has been praised for helping local independent businesses develop.

Sainsbury’s in Weymouth is opening its foyer to small businesses on a regular basis, starting on Saturday with a Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Sainsbury’s Fair.

The Rural Dorset Branch of the Federation of Small Businesses has praised the supermarket giant for the initiative.

Store manager Steve Jones said he has offered his foyer space to small businesses at the Sainsbury’s store he used to manage and it was a success.

He said: “The space is free to the traders and it’s my way of trying to help small local businesses promote themselves.

“This is something I did to great effect in my last store.”

Among the local firms exhibiting on Saturday are Mallams Restaurant, the 918 Coffee Company and Escape Yachting.

The FSB said it is ‘delighted’ that Sainsbury’s is providing space on a regular basis for local traders to promote and sell their products within their store.

The business organisation said it was encouraged to see Sainsbury’s staff and construction workers staying in local guest houses before the Weymouth Gateway store opened late last year, resulting in an increase in business for a number of small independent guest houses.

John Walmsley, FSB Rural Dorset Branch vice-chairman, said: “There is no doubt that the high street and shopping habits are changing, and that supermarkets offer a diverse service to local areas.

“They can generate additional footfall into localities, but can also detract from high streets and town centres, by offering free car parking and a huge range of products. This initiative and positive approach by Sainsbury’s shows that there is concern for integrating and supporting the local community.

“It is a small step but a very welcome gesture, in looking to support local micro and small businesses and to help them to raise their profile.”