INDEPENDENT local businesses have praised a Weymouth supermarket for helping them promote their firms.

Sainsbury’s in Weymouth opened its foyer to small businesses with its first Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Sainsbury’s Fair.

The store’s pioneering initiative, which will take place on a regular basis, has been praised by The Rural Dorset Branch of the Federation of Small Businesses.

Local firms that exhibited on Saturday included Mallams Restaurant, the 918 Coffee Company, Sunny Day nursery in Weymouth, Bridal and Ball wedding and prom dresses and The Pet Experience.

Jo Parker, Sunny Day nursery manager, said: “The fair allows us to market the company to shoppers who may not have heard of us before, especially parents and families.

“We hope to continue coming to similar events. The location is brilliant too because we’re just down the road.”

Justin Cornelius, 918 Coffee Company’s managing director, said the Sainsbury’s foyer was the perfect place to market their new range of Dorset roast coffee, and offered local businesses a step up on the promotional ladder.

Janice Gosson of Mallams Restaurant added: “I can’t see anything detrimental about the scheme at all, the initiative is brilliant.”

Sainsbury’s 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.

The FSB 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 small independent guest houses.

David Trickett, FSB Rural Dorset Branch chairman, was at the fair and hailed the new supermarket initiative as a brilliant idea.

He added: “It’s fantastic for Sainsbury’s in Weymouth to do this; the FSB welcomes it and it places the store in a better position against other Weymouth supermarkets.”