Century of Leeds tradition saved as North Lane shop reopens as The Headingley Greengrocer

The Headingley Development Trust is pictured outside the new shop. PIcture by Simon Hulme.
The Headingley Development Trust is pictured outside the new shop. PIcture by Simon Hulme.

The future of one of the most familiar sights on a Leeds high street has been saved after locals bought the business.

Shoppers were "very, very disappointed and upset" to find RK Harris and Sons greengrocer in North Lane, Headingley, closed in recent weeks.

Nitesh Dhiliwal.

Nitesh Dhiliwal.

But the Headingley Development Trust (HDT) has used its investment fund to take over the shop, hoping to put an emphasis on plastic-free and locally-sourced fruit and vegetables.

Keith Harris opened the treasured greengrocer's in 1975, but retired a couple of years ago, with brother Raymond and Eileen Harris taking over.

But they decided to sell, opening a space for HDT to further establish its presence in the area with The Headingley Greengrocer.

There has been a greengrocer's shop in the premises at 50 North Lane for more than 100 years, the original established by Suttill Hannam during the First World War, according to HDT.

The shop in a former guise. Credit:  Leodis, Leeds Libraries.

The shop in a former guise. Credit: Leodis, Leeds Libraries.

The new shop reopened on Friday, but a formal ceremony due to be attended by Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel is to take place on Saturday from 10.15am, involving music and a raffle.

“We are thrilled to be continuing a fine tradition”, said Rachel Harkess, one of the trust's directors.

“We will be selling loose, high quality produce, local and English if possible and still catering to a range of budgets.

"And local really means local as some produce comes from Whiteley's in Pudsey.

“We’ll also be avoiding plastic as far as we can,” she added.

“And the community is really involved - many volunteers rolled up their sleeves over the Easter holiday to give the premises a new look and get it ready for opening."

The shop has already established links with Plate 2 Plate, which collects food waste and turns it into high quality compost, which will go on sale at the Headingley Farmers’ Market.

It will continue an association with Rainbow Junktion, a pay-as-you feel community café at All Hallows' Church in Hyde Park.

New manager Nitesh Dhiliwal and his team are already excited by the response from shoppers.

He said: “As well as offering great produce, we want to give excellent customer service too. We want every customer to come away with a smile on their face”.

The Headingley Greengrocer has also been supported by a small business loan by the Natural Food Store, the wholefood and grocery shop opposite, which is a co-operative

owned by the community.

“We’re delighted to be working closely with them and also the excellent Headingley Farm Butcher next door,” said Mr Dhiliwal.

“Together, we’re again making North Lane a great destination for the shopper."

HDT chairwoman Helen Seymour said: "It helps to regenerate the high street, it's another way of doing that, and it gets people to use the other North Lane shops."

The shop is open Monday to Friday from 8am until 5pm, and on Saturday between 8am and 4pm.

Headingley residents formed HDT, a social enterprise with over 1,000 members, in 2005 to develop enterprising schemes that promote and sustain a "vibrant" local community.