Retailers resigned to Tesco arrival
INDEPENDENT retailers in north Essex who fought proposals for a Tesco store have now resigned themselves to defeat.Shopkeepers in Colchester's Crouch Street had opposed plans for a new Tesco Express on their road.
INDEPENDENT retailers in north Essex who fought proposals for a Tesco store have now resigned themselves to defeat.
Shopkeepers in Colchester's Crouch Street had opposed plans for a new Tesco Express on their road. They argued the new store not only threatened existing traders' livelihoods, but also the character and charm of a historic shopping area.
Now, following recommendations from council officers, proposals for the supermarket giant's convenience store and cash machine look set to go ahead unchanged.
But as Tesco did not need planning permission to turn the former MVC premises into a mini-supermarket, many retailers had already seen the chain store's arrival as inevitable.
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Phil Gunton, director of local delicatessen H Gunton Ltd, said: “Other than chaining ourselves to the shop when they start building, there's nothing else we can do. We're despondent. We've done everything we can.
“Tesco argues it will bring more people into the street, but I can only see that happening in the evening, as there's a limited lunchtime trade. They can undercut everyone's prices and target their competition if they want. So the worst case is it will close all the food shops.”
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Mr Gunton, whose family-run shop has been trading in Crouch Street since 1936, had even started a website “TESCNO” to oppose the new store.
Feeling unable to block the shop's arrival in the street, Mr Gunton campaigned to limit its visual impact on the adjoining conservation area by “calming down” its appearance.
He said: “We had more than 900 responses to the website and leaflets and only 34 wanted a Tesco's.
“It's likely shops will gradually disappear. I can't think of anywhere in the country where Tesco moved in and business looked up.
“Hopefully customers will support us. We never know how the leaflet campaign will translate into real life. We will just do what we can do once they open and hope people vote with their feet.”
John Whitnell, 55, who has worked in his family's greengrocer, Whitnell's on Crouch Street since he left school at 16, was confident his regulars would rescue his business's future.
He said: “I was scared when I first heard about Tesco's, but regulars have told me they won't let me down. I've got really loyal customers and they've said they'll stick by us.”
A Tesco spokeswoman said the store - due to open in May - would create around 25 jobs for local people.
She said: “We have found that our Express stores encourage people to shop locally and can have a positive knock-on effect for other retailers while attracting new business to the area.
“We look forward to serving local people and becoming part of the community.”
Colchester Borough Council's planning committee will consider the application next Thursday at 6pm.