Saturday, November 15, 2008

So, Tesco it is.

Jan and Tracy are strong and opinionated women. At the Montgomeryshire Dinner' held in Meifod Village Hall last night I was seated comfortably next to them, tucking in to outstandingly good fare. A most convivial evening suddenly turned quite intimidatory when I mentioned that the new supermarket to be built in the middle of Welshpool is to be a Tesco. I possessed this knowledge because the developers had telephoned me earlier in the day, seeking a supportive quote on the Press Release that has now been issued. Well actually, it wasn't the fact it was a Tesco that brought opprobrium down upon my head, but that I made the announcement with some approval. I've always had a soft spot for Tesco, because I used to know the then Managing Director, David Malpas, and Dr Gwyn Jones, another Director rather well a few years ago. I suppose its a warmth born of personal friendship. But I don't know much about supermarket shopping - though I did once enter Morrison's of Welshpool for the purposes of shopping in May 2007.

Now Jan and Tracy do not want a new supermarket in Welshpool at all, and if it must be, they do not want it to be a Tesco. The situation was manageable. But then I made a fatal mistake - one that politicians are prone to make. I began talking about something of which I know little. I said that Tesco in a very good quality retailer, and than Welshpool's shoppers (thankfully I didn't say housewives) would be really pleased to have this choice, and that many of those who currently choose to travel to shop will now stay in Welshpool. Well, I know at least two who don't agree.

Many local people do not want another supermarket to come to Welshpool at all. Fair enough. But those who hold this opinion should accept that in due course, the town will lose its livestock market. I'm told that the current market is unlikely to comply with various legal requirements for much longer, and will not survive. The only way that sufficient money can be raised to build a new livestock market is through sale of part of the existing site for food retailing.

Whatever, the decisions have now been taken. Welshpool is being redesigned. The new livestock market is being built (the first sod is being turned on 27th Nov), a one-way traffic system is being introduced, and Tesco is coming. I wonder if Jan and Tracy will be able to resist all those juicy introductory offers that are going to be advertised on posters when Tesco of Welshpool opens?


Stonemason said...

Jan and Tracy might also be local the oracle, you might like to investigate the effect that Tesco had in the town of Bicester in North Oxfordshire, it was devastating to local business.

It might be that local politicians and business people should examine the potential for re-energising the livestock market rather than inviting the unknown to their hearth. I am sure the WAG has money it could divert from its smoke and mirrors projects to a project of substance.

alfsplace1986 said...

It seems that you haven't shopped in Tesco well I can tell you the fresh food there is rubbish it starts goes off as soon as you open the packets and it is the most expensive of all the main supermarkets.
We have tried all of them and we use Morrisons because that seems to be the cheapest and better value.
Try looking around the country where the Supermarkets have opened and I think you will find that local shops have been forced out of business. Do you also know that if Tesco have a pharmacy in their store how many local ones may be forced to close.
It is not just the experience of having a big store in your area that is exiting think how it will affect the small businesses and local Farmers markets which I know you support

dalesman said...

Why do you assume that every town wants a supermarket, and especially Tesco?

It seems that plans are afoot for a Tesco store in Llanrwst, which most local people appear to be against. If Tesco does open it will damage the town, forcing many of the small shops to close.

Tesco is NOT the be all and end all.

Glyn Davies said...

stonemason - Fact is all the decisions have now been taken. The debate about whether this site should have been allocated for food retail was taken when permission was granted. All that has been announced today is that it will be Tesco.

There were two considerations in my mind on the general principle. Firstly, I believe retaining a livestock market at Welshpool (which is potentially one of the biggest in Europe) is very important to the town, and the current site will not accommodate what will be required in the future. And the only way in which the money can be raised is as a supermarket site.

And secondly, I believe that the Local Planning Authority would not be able to resist a new large food retail unit in the town (as happened with Lidl at Newtown) and the current livestock market site is the least damaging as far as local businesses are concerned.

alfspace - thats exactly what Jan and Tracy were telling me. As it happens, I have had no influence at all on these developments, but I care very much for the town. My acceptance of what is happening flows from my experience of the limitations of the planning system to control development, and a desire to always work within what's possible. Personally I don't believe it will have a negative impact on Farmer's Markets - but I do accept that it will have an impact on town centre businesses - but not always in a negative way.

dalesman - My response to stonemason above applies.

Valleys Mam said...

Tesco is a creeping plague, its preditory and will stop at nothing in its craze for market dominance.
There are some ethical retailers,who offer good quality, but not stupidly low prices that prevent local shops even having a sniff at competing.
But as Glyn says, how do you stop progression, I wont say progress and when money is squeezed, people will make choices and shop where they feel value is best for them.
Not everyone has the luxury of affording Waitrose or an organic market.

Glyn Davies said...

VM - Tesco is a brilliant business, which is structured to grow and be profitable - which is why we have fair trading and competition law. I am always surprised by the number of people who patronise the major retailers when they so oppose their presence. In Welshpool, Tesco's market will be to take some business from Morrisons and retain some of the spend that is currently being exported to Oswestry, Shrewsbury and Telford. One question that interests me is why shoppers who currently choose smaller shops over Morrisons should desert to shop at Tesco.

JPT said...

This is awful.
Tesco coming to town (Welshpool) will hit the other supermarkets profits - something must be done to protect the existing supermarkets of the town!

dalesman said...

You seem to care little for the small businesses in these towns, which will suffer when a large supermarket opens.
Not only will Tesco (or any other supermarket chain) have a negative effect on Farmers markets, but all the other small businesses too.
The sad fact is that supermarkets have a devastating effect when they move into small towns.

Glyn Davies said...

jpt - Believe it or not, but I have heard this case made with all seriousness.

dalesman - Like many I share people's preference for the small businesses of the town, but I take the view that 'shopper's voting with their wallets' make it inevitable that a new supermarket will come to both Welshpool and Newtown. The planning system is not strong enough to prevent them. Politician's that suspend reality in order to espouse a populist message are pointless. What's crucial is that supermarkets are located where they will do least damage to the town centres. Personally, I believe the Welshpool proposal meets this requirement. I do not think that the Newtown Tesco proposal does, and I would have liked to have seen it refused - but it seems that it won't be.

Stonemason said...

Glyn Davies Your .....

"supermarkets are located where they will do least damage to the town centres. "

The only safe place, to do the minimum of damage would be the town centre, locating Tesco in a out of town location, or even to the outskirts of a town centre, is a little like a bath, the water (shoppers) graduate to the trap (Tesco/other large supermarket) unable to escape the velocity of water (shoppers running towards the special offer).

Like it or not, the large supermarkets are only interested in one thing, taking as much money from your town as they can.

Glyn Davies said...

stonemason - Not much to disagree about here. Of course supermarkets are in it to make money. And they are allowed to do that as long as its within a fair and competetive environment. Also true that supermarkets are best located in town centres. And this has been the interesting debate at Welshpool. The site is as near the town centre as is practically possible - but it will still be 300 yds (my guess) from existing shops. It will not bring any benefit to the town unless it attracts a lot of new shoppers to Welshpool. We will find out.

Bernie said...

Tis a sad day when a Tory candidate backs a huge monster like Tesco against the small shopkeeper.
Shame on you Glyn!

Glyn Davies said...

Bernie - I'm not even sure that you have followed this debate - to have made a comment like that. I've no doubt that there will be some small businesses damaged by Tesco's arrival in the town, but my opinion is that they would be much more damaged by the loss of the Livestock market and a Tesco built much further out - and if you doubt that this would happen, ask yourself how Charlies got permission and read my later post about Lidl.