Tesco cancels new stores in Essex after poor trading results

Tesco is closing two stores in Chelmsford and Heybridge.

Tesco is closing two stores in Chelmsford and Heybridge. - Credit: PA

Supermarket giant Tesco has cancelled plans to build three new stores in north Essex in the wake of poor national sales figures.

Tendring District Council (TDC) said the retailer had written to them to confirm stores planned for Station Road, Manningtree, and at the Martello Caravan Park, Walton, would no longer be going ahead.

The Manningtree store, which had proved controversial with local residents, already had planning permission with work due to start by next month.

The Walton store formed part of plans for a wider development of homes, and also the potential for a new doctors’ surgery for the town.

Elsewhere Tesco has also pulled out of plans for a new shop in Butt Road, Colchester, but said sites it owns in Mersea Road and in Prettygate are unaffected.

The decision, made with “a heavy heart” to not proceed with 49 planned sites nationally comes after a fall in sales, and the supermarket is also closing 43 existing stores.

The details of these have not yet been released.

A new store in Coggeshall Road, Braintree, set to open in March, is unaffected.

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Carlo Guglielmi, councillor for planning at TDC, said he was disappointed at the decision which was confirmed in a letter from Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis this morning.

He said: “Both these stores have been promised for a long time and we have been told categorically over and over again that Tesco would be proceeding at both of these sites.

“This is not good for Tendring in terms of new jobs and a lot of people will be disappointed by this.”

Council leader Mick Page added: “This has come as a real shock and I am bitterly disappointed by this decision.

“We have strongly supported Tesco plans at both Manningtree and Walton and it is a real blow for employment opportunities.”

Mr Page said the council would be holding emergency talks today to look at the best way forward.

Mr Lewis said: “It is with a heavy heart that I am today announcing we are unable to proceed with 49 planned new store developments across the UK, including our planned new stores on Station Road in Manningtree, on Butt Road in Colchester, and on the Martello Caravan site in Walton.

“Our performance as a business has fallen significantly short of where we would want it to be and my absolute imperative has to be to protect the future of our business for the 300,000 colleagues we employ in communities all over the UK.

“I know that this news will be a real disappointment to many people in both local communities and we’re extremely grateful for the support we’ve received for our plans.

“I am very aware of the importance of the sites to their local areas and I am determined that we will work closely with Tendring District Council and Colchester Borough Council to find the right solution for both local communities.”

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell said he had immediately contacted Tesco and would be holding a meeting with the firm to discuss the future of the Butt Road site.

He added: “I had a meeting with them last year when I was informed a decision to proceed was on ‘hold’. Now the company has decided not to go ahead, but the planning consent remains one for a superstore – so clearly there are commercial decisions which Tesco will take into account if they decide to dispose of the site.”

Sir Bob said the Garrison Development Blueprint was for a supermarket on the corner of Butt Road and Goojerat Road, so it would be a change of planning policy if the land was to be used for something else.

He said: “If there is going to be a change to the planning use or planning consent then I hope Colchester Borough Council will take the opportunity to insist on pedestrian safety measures on the western side of Butt Road, between the corner from Layer Road towards Constantine Road, by widening the pavement and amending the road layout.

“Residents of houses on the new estate opposite the proposed entrance to the superstore site have drawn my attention to the serious road safety issues at the roundabout at this location. That also needs to be addressed, now if possible.”

Paul Smith, councillor for business at Colchester Borough Council, said: “It is not surprising Tesco has decided not to proceed with another new store in Colchester particularly given the number of new outlets they and their competitors have or are planning in the town.

“I would encourage them to work with the local community, and Colchester’s planning department, to quickly decide the future of the site.”