Store giant 'could ruin' small traders

INDEPENDENT traders fear they might be put of business after they discovered retail giant Tesco could be moving onto their doorstep. Crouch Street is well known in Colchester for its lack of typical high street stores and boasts a string of independent shops including one of the town's most well known establishments – Guntons.

INDEPENDENT traders fear they might be put of business after they discovered retail giant Tesco could be moving onto their doorstep.

Crouch Street is well known in Colchester for its lack of typical high street stores and boasts a string of independent shops including one of the town's most well known establishments - Guntons.

Herbert Gunton set up business in 1936 which today specialises in coffees, cheeses and meats but yesterday his grandson, Keith, said he could not even contemplate taking on Tesco, which recently announced its profits had broken through the billion pound barrier.

Rumours have been rife that Tesco will be moving into the empty premises of the former MVC store and yesterday the company refused to rule out the swoop.


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And Tesco may not even have to get planning permission from Colchester Borough Council because it would not require a change of use at the large unit.

It is not the first time the market leader has tried to move a branch into the town - previously failing with a bid to move into Layer Road.

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Yesterday shopkeepers said they feared even if the store moved in for just a few years it could cripple the turnover of other businesses, changing the face of Crouch Street forever.

Whitnell's greengrocers is just across the road from where the new Tesco would go but Maureen Coldwell, who has worked there for 22 years, pledged the existing shops would stick together.

"We would not stand a chance, it would be an absolute disaster for us and it is worrying for us and a lot of the other shops along Crouch Street.

"It is just like a little village here and you get people dropping in as they walk by - but we cannot compete with them or their prices.

"We will come together to fight against it as it would just be like every other case where they have gone into an area and everything else shuts down," she said.

A few doors further along Crouch Street, Mr Gunton added: "I would close the store, we could not even try to compete with them.

"We have our regulars but I do not want to take on Tesco, they could even move straight in as there would not have to be a change of use."

Mary Pratchett, a worker at Unwins off license said: "I cannot see why they would do it as bringing in something like Tesco would ruin things for most of us here."

Mark Harrison, owner of Mark William Interiors slammed the idea of Tesco coming into the centre of town.

"Where would vehicles be parking as there is no more parking in the street?"

Last night a spokeswoman for Tesco said: "We would not comment until an application has gone in and we cannot comment on rumour and speculation."

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