Tesco rapped by advertising watchdog

A SUPERMARKET giant wanting to build a new store in an Essex town has been rapped over the knuckles by the UK's advertising watchdog for making misleading claims in a leaflet about the proposal.

Roddy Ashworth

A SUPERMARKET giant wanting to build a new store in an Essex town has been rapped over the knuckles by the UK's advertising watchdog for making misleading claims in a leaflet about the proposal.

And yesterday Manningtree resident Michael Checketts, who made four formal complaints about the 2008 Tesco circular, said the ruling was a “great fillip” for those protesting against the plans.

Proposals for the 30,000 sq ft store, which would be built in Station Road, Manningtree, have caused controversy in the local area, with many objecting on the grounds that its presence would damage existing traders and also cause traffic chaos.


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But in a leaflet circulated to local homes, Tesco stated “there is a need and demand for a new food store to serve the Manningtree / Lawford / Mistley area”.

It claimed this even though its own market research showed only 8.6% of those polled about how to improve shopping locally - 38 of 440 respondents - replied “supermarket” while 65.9% (290 respondents) replied: “don't know/none”.

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Even fewer of those asked - just 20 people - opted for a Tesco store.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which oversees and enforces the code of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), said that because of this the statement was misleading.

The ASA ruled: “We considered that readers were likely to infer from the claim that local residents had been surveyed and the majority had indicated that they wanted and needed a new food store.

“We noted only 8.6% of respondents to the telephone survey believed a new supermarket would be useful.

“We considered Tesco had failed to substantiate that there was a need and demand for a new food store to serve the Manningtree/Lawford and Mistley area and concluded that the claim was misleading.”

The supermarket also stated that the new store would lead to a reduction in local car travel of over 60%, as people would not choose to drive to nearby towns.

It claimed: “That's nearly 8 million kilometres ... Our scheme will mean ... about 1.6 million tons less carbon emissions.”

However, the ASA said it was a misleading statement because it was not clear that these figures were based on estimates.

It also noted that when Tesco had put “1.6 million tons” it should have put “1.6million kilograms”, a much smaller amount.

Tesco said the printing of the incorrect measure was the result of human error.

Mr Checketts, a member of pressure group Stour Community First, said he was very pleased about the ASA's ruling, even though two other complaints he made - about the effect on the local economy and the number of jobs to be created - had not been upheld.

“I am very pleased. I thought the leaflet contained a lot of misinformation,” he said.

“This will be very helpful for those people against the store, because it shows Tesco have been misleading people. It is a great fillip.

“It is a victory not only for our group but also anywhere where any big company is trying to build these stores.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “We are disappointed at this ruling.

“We go to great lengths to ensure that customers and communities are well informed about our development proposals, and that any information we provide is helpful and accurate.

“In this case, the 'need' referred to has a specific meaning in planning terms, so we disagree with the ASA's findings.

“We are continuing to discuss this issue with the ASA.”

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