When news happens, text ROMS and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Traders in clash with Tesco team
1:30pm Friday 15th June 2012 in News
A golden opportunity or a fatal blow?
Those two opposing views on plans for a new edge-of-town supermarket on the Broadlands estate collided when representatives of Tesco met Romsey traders at a stormy meeting on Tuesday evening.
Addressing Romsey Retailers Association, Tesco’s public relations man, Mark Harrison, opened by saying: “This is an opportunity for the town centre...and it’s an opportunity for Tesco to play our part in the continuing success of Romsey.”
In January, Tesco announced its plans to locate a store on the six-acre site “Fairground Field”, south of the bypass.
Chartered town planner, Malcolm Alsop, told traders that studies had shown that 45 to 60 per cent of people in Romsey did their main food shopping out of town and that the existing Waitrose, Aldi and Co-op, while “good in themselves”, did not meet everyone's needs.
The third member of the Tesco team at the meeting in the Crosfield Hall, development executive, James Harrison, said the company had a “long outstanding requirement to provide a food store in Romsey” and that he was confident no other alternative site existed.
The Tesco trio claimed the new 35,000 sq ft shop, similar in size and product range to the Tebourba Way branch in Millbrook, could stop this leakage and bring more people to Romsey. In addition to this, it would create 200 local jobs.
Greg Davies, director of Romsey’s department store, Bradbeers, referred to a report carried on behalf of Test Valley Borough Council by Nathaniel Lichfield and partners which said a major store off the bypass should only be considered if no other land in the town was available.
Tesco’s plan would suck £14 million per year of food sales out of Romsey, he claimed. “I can’t see how you can say this store will help us,” he said.
He based his figures on a section in the Nathaniel Lichfield report, which says a food store of 2,500 sq m (aprox 27,000 sq ft), with a turnover of £30 million, would be expected to reduce the turnover of existing facilities in Romsey from £36.27 million to £22.26 million, an average impact of 38.6 per cent.
The report goes on to say: “These figures suggest a store of 2,500 sq m net may harm existing convenience shopping provision in Romsey. The figures suggest there is no over-riding need for a food store of this size in Romsey for the foreseeable future.”
Mr Davies said he had visited the Millbrook store and he reeled off a list of businesses which would be hit – including cafés, stationer, clothes, toy, hardware and pet shops – if this was replicated on the fringe of Romsey.
He also pointed out that Tesco’s plans to offer three hours free parking for all, regardless of whether or not they used the store, would hit TVBC parking revenue, with a knock-on effect on council services.
A fruit and veg trader from the market said: “This is going to kill our trade.”
Mr Alsop replied: “We have built countless stores around the country where it has not resulted in the Armageddon scenario.”
When asked which towns had benefitted from the arrival of Tesco, Mr Alsop pointed to Beverley, in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
Malcolm Smith, of Photoflair, challenged Tesco to supply five examples of their stores boosting town centres, which Romsey traders could then research.
Several traders asked if there was anything to stop Tesco expanding the store and the range of products it offered once planning permission had been gained.
The Tesco team said there would be no scope for extending the store, or adding a mezzanine floor, as other shops had done in the past.