CEN article: ‘Tesco shop protest to continue’

CAMPAIGNERS are to continue fighting Tesco plans to open an express shop in Cambridge.

The supermaket giant has said it is not trying to put local traders out of business, but more than 4,000 people have signed a petition against their plans.

“Britain will have lost all its independent convenience stores and newsagents by the year 2015.” – Sonia Cooter, co-ordinator of the campaign, on the current rate of closures.

As the News has reported, Tesco has assured residents that only a small express store is planned, which will create 20 new jobs.

Sonia Cooter, co-ordinator of the campaign, said Tesco representatives had promised residents the proposed shop “would not have a negative impact on the other shops on Mill Road”.

But, she said, the evidence of towns all over the country paints a very different picture.

“The rise and rise of the supermarket giants, with Tesco leading the pack, is resulting in the closure of 2,000 independent retail stores each year across the country,” she said.

“The recent Competition Commission report on supermarkets noted that almost a third of Britain’s independent convenience stores have disappeared in the last seven years, while Tesco are planning to open 100 convenience stores in the current financial year.

“At the current rate of closure, according to the All-Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, Britain will have lost all its independent convenience stores and newsagents by the year 2015.

“Tesco representatives could not explain to campaign members why consumers needed yet another Tesco store in Cambridge, a city where they already have a 51 per cent market share, one of the highest in the country.”

Tesco spokesman Michael Kissman said Tesco has a “national pricing policy'”.

“It will therefore not be varying the pricing in Mill Road to specifically target local traders,” he said.

“The prices charged in Mill Road Tesco Express will be the same as charged in other Express stores across the country.”

Mr Kissman said the Competition Commission had not found “evidence of unfair distortions in competition between large grocery retailers and small stores”.

He said: “The report said that there was no ‘predatory strategy’ aimed at convenience stores or specialist shops.”

A public meeting organised by the campaigners will be held tomorrow (Wednesday, 07 November) in the Mill Road Baptist Church, starting at 6.30pm.

Cambridge Evening News, 6th November 2007

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