New Tesco could pose threat to local shops

A warning has been issued that shops will close when a Tesco Express opens in North Bersted.

Shop-owners and councillors have greeted the news that the retailing giant is to open its ninth store in the area on the site of the former Rising Sun pub.

Work has begun there. The firm expects the new outlet to open in late May.

But Sonny Athwal, who employs eight part-time staff at Shop Around The Clock, a few hundred metres north of the new Tesco, said: “The frightening thing about it is that it could close our store.

“We have been here as a family store for more than 30 years and spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on the store.

“I find it disgraceful Tesco want to come here. We are here, there’s the Homefare store and McColl’s in the Royal Parade and the 24-hour garage – and they still want to come in the middle of us.

“It’s bound to affect our trade. If we are going to stay, it’s all going to come down to local people. We need them to support us.I like to think we listen to our customers and give them what they want.”

Homefare store and post office owner Dean Chudasama said: “The new Tesco is going to have a lot of impact on us. It’s always the small shops that suffer when Tesco open.

“I employ ten to 12 part-time staff here and I expect I will have to cut back. If my trade goes down, I’ve got to make savings and reducing my staff is a way to do that. That will make even more people suffer because of Tesco.

“But I don’t think I will have to close. I wouldn’t expect the situation to get as bad as that.”

But Cllr Simon McDougall said he was concerned the store’s arrival would sound the death knell for the Royal Parade shopping centre just to the south on Chichester Road.

“With there being no need for planning permission for the new store, it makes a mockery of the local democratic decision-making process and gives local people little influence.

“There are two convenience stores within the Royal Parade and Shop Around the Clock close by that will all be affected by the proposed store.

“Tesco claim their store will lead to 20-30 full and part-time jobs. I have to ask will there be any net gain in jobs locally?”

Cllr Adam Cunard said: “We have to do everything we can to stop Tesco. The company is completely taking over our town. It’s also sad to lose what was a very good community pub.”

Tesco corporate affairs manager Simon Petar has told residents in a letter: “As the premises were most recently used as a public house, we do not require planning permission for a change of use to introduce a Tesco Express.

“However, we will soon be applying for planning permission for some minor works to the building as well as advertisement consent for signage.

“A large percentage of our customers come from within 500m of the store, many of whom walk or cycle.

“The store will create about 20-30 new full and part-time jobs for local people.”