Archive for May 2022

The end of Tesco

Tesco now closedTesco has finally closed its store on Mill Road today.

When plans for a store were first announced back in 2007, thousands of people opposed it. Local residents came together to say that another supermarket wasn’t wanted or needed on a street famous for its independent businesses. They organised, they marched, they wrote objections.

Thanks to that community effort, the store that finally opened two years later was smaller and less disruptive to the families living around it.

Because the site was already a shop, Tesco were able to go ahead and open, even after they were repeatedly refused permission for their expansion plans. But because of those refusals, the store was more expensive to run and not able to sell alcohol.

When it finally opened, many people chose not to shop there, preferring to support the local independent shops, run by people who were members of the community, or to use the Co-op that had been part of Mill Road for over a century.

The result was that the Tesco store that most local people never wanted and never used was a loss-making site from the start. In the first months of its operation, people who worked there said that it was losing £10,000 a week. If that carried on, it will have lost over £6 million in the years it was open.

We don’t actually know how much Tesco lost by refusing to listen to local shoppers and forcing open the store. But we doubt they’d be closing if they were making a profit.

So today marks the end of Tesco on Mill Road.

But what’s ending is less important than what won’t change.

In one way, Tesco perhaps did us a favour in 2007. It made thousands of us realise just how much we valued what was unique about Mill Road. It made us realise that we didn’t want to lose that special character.  And it made us more aware of the area as a community. It brought us together.

A lot has changed on Mill Road since 2007. Some shops and restaurants have closed and new ones have opened. It now has a beautiful, award-winning mosque. We’ve lost amazing people who worked for and shared their love of the area.

But despite the changes, it remains the same: a diverse, thriving community with the unique character that made people work so hard to protect it. Long after Tesco has been forgotten here, Mill Road will continue to be a place where people want to live and work, where they want to shop and eat, and come together as a community.

So, thank you to everyone who has helped to make this a place we want to be – a place worth fighting for.

See you on Mill Road.

A poem, from Ed Jenkins, whose videos from 2007-9 you can also browse.

The ‘Express’ has been derailed
Yes Tesco in Romsey has failed,
Campaigners said when Wilco left
Tesco eventually will fail the test.

They fought long and hard,
But Police held the trump card,
The Company was told,
‘No alcohol will be sold’.

Road safety became an issue
With danger seen in any queue,
Unloading supplies taking time,
Keeping traffic in frustrating line.

So deliveries had to be done
Round narrow streets by tiny van,
Only little and often to happen
No large loads to break the pattern.

The time has come,
Campaigners have won,
And now they can say,
‘No Tesco in Mill Road’ is back to stay.

Ed Jenkins, 28th May 2022