New Reading store could occupy old benefits offices

The Abbey Corner building at the junction of Duke Street and Kings Road has been unoccupied for years after being used by a series of different businesses.

It was previously occupied by Weight Watchers serving as a lifestyle centre from around 2012 to 2015.

Abbey Corner was last used as an office to assist benefits claimants, serving as a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) consultation centre.

However, around 2017 the offices were vacated and it has remained that way ever since.

Now the ground floor of the Abbey Corner is being divided into three different units, with one of these being occupied by a convenience store.

Bill Donne, a licensing consultant, said the ground floor is being split into three as he has been appointed as licensing representative for the future occupant of the store.

Businessman Gulinder Singh Chopra has applied to sell alcohol from one of the to-be-established units from 7am to 11pm each day.

Mr Chopra took over Todays Express not far away at 15 Duke Street last year.

Todays Express in Duke Street, Reading town centre.Todays Express in Duke Street, Reading town centre.

Initially, he was only allowed to sell multiple cans of alcohol and no drinks over 6.5 per cent ABV.

Mr Chopra successfully applied for those conditions to be removed earlier this year.

Reading Borough Council’s licensing applications committee revoked the licence for alcohol to be sold at Todays Express at a meeting in February 2023.

Mr Chopra took over the business in March 2023 with alcohol sales being reinstated the following month, albeit under tougher conditions.

Although conditions controlling the amount and strength of drinks were removed this year,  Mr Chopra explained that occupying a new convenience store at Abbey Corner would give him a fresh start, given the difficult history at Today’s Express.

The convenience store he hopes to open at the Abbey Corner would be run alongside Todays Express.

Mr Chopra said: “If I have another business on that corner, I will get business in from that side of the town.

“Because here, this business had a bad history, I want to start something fresh with no history and I can then build the business better.”

He also wants to attract customers by opening earlier at the new store.

Todays Express opens at 8am, the new convenience store would open at 7am.

Mr Chopra explained: “I want to provide services to school students and office workers who come in early, at seven o’clock.

“I can’t currently serve them at this shop.”

A statutory consultation is being held into the application, which you can take part in by emailing

The deadline for responses is Tuesday, June 25.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre