When we want a supermarket in our local area, what can we do?

Big Local reps work with local areas across England and the range of issues raised with them by local people is truly amazing.  This week, Linda Clark in Gateshead (Teams, Derwentwater and Racecourse) was asked how a supermarket could be attracted into the area.

Tim Morton suggested having a look at the North Glasgow Community Food Initiative (http://www.ngcfi.org.uk), which runs ‘fruit barras’ selling fresh, affordable fruit and veg in a range of community venues.  They run gardening sessions at local allotments and cookery classes for local groups.  Simrit Sandhu has direct experience of working with Unicorn, Manchester’s Co-operative Grocery (http://www.unicorn-grocery.co.uk) which has been running since 1996.  It also has a great video called Grow a Grocery Guide (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS8-ErCoMjs) to help others set up similar businesses.  Many people have seen the Channel 4 programme on the People’s Supermarket.  Nesta is about to launch a book on it, called “The Secret Sauce”; a guide to creating your own retail outlet whose business is ethics and whose customers are members of a community.  I’ll follow up on it when it’s launched (27th July 2012).

A number of reps expressed concerns about Tesco and whether regeneration commitments would be delivered.  There can also be problems with anti-social behaviour at any supermarket.  Supermarkets vary their pricing depending on what they think they can charge and this ofter means that smaller stores in poorer neighbourhoods charge higher prices.  Customer service access courses can enable to local people to secure employment, but there are no guarantees of jobs.  Chris Church commented that the Co-operative has a good track record on community engagement.

Andrew Haynes has experience of both an Asda and a Tesco store coming into local areas and while he has reservations about promises unfulfilled, they did create flexible jobs which attracted local people.  An unforeseen side-effect was that care providers struggled to keep their employees who preferred more sociable hours and better pay working for the big supermarkets.

For those who want to make direct contact and find out if any development is planned for Gateshead in particular, here are the details:

Tesco‘s Property Acquisitions Department is based at Head Office, PO Box 400, Cirrus Building B, Shire Park, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, AL7 1AB Tel 01707395150 and ask for Property Acquisition for the North East.

Sainsbury’s Convenience Story Regional Acquisition Manager is Jim Bishop tel 07919299439 email jim.bishop@sainsburys.co.uk.

Morrisons works through Rapleys and their contact person is Helen Collier Tel 02072558055 email hc@rapleys.co.uk.

Asda invites contacts relating to retail development through its contact form at http://retail-development.asda.com/contact-us.php.

The Co-operative is looking for new sites and their contact in the North of England is Tim Hanser tel 07894784251 email tim.hanser@co-operative.coop.

Can I add finally that it took me about 2 hours to find the contact details for Tesco and 15 minutes to find all the rest!

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