Tesco is to re-open its controversial Slough Extra store next month and close its neighbouring superstore to avoid intervention from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Tesco said last year that it would sell the superstore once refurbishment was completed on the 101,000 sq ft kingsize Extra, which will offer the biggest range of Asian products ever seen in a Tesco.
Competition issues arose in 2003 when the number one retailer bought a superstore in Uxbridge Road, Slough, from the Co-operative Group, just over half a mile from its existing Extra store in Brunel Road.
Figures compiled at the time
for The Grocer by CACI forecast that the deal would increase Tesco’s market share in the Slough area from 40% to 52% (The Grocer, August 16 2003, p21). The OFT later launched an investigation and referred the deal to the Competition Commission.
The move sent shockwaves through the industry as it signalled a shift in OFT policy, but Tesco successfully argued that it had never intended running the two stores simultaneously - a defence that was finally accepted by the OFT.
The Extra store, which will add up to 300 jobs to the existing 700-strong workforce, will carry more than 500 Asian products, including cooking utensils, 10kg bags of Basmati rice, Bollywood DVDs and Saris. Store manager Richard Wilcock said it was important to sell produce that was representative of local community needs.
The product range may go some way to appease locals by showing that Tesco cares about the communities it operates in.
In recent months a string of campaigns have been launched against the retailer as local groups across the country battle to stop it opening in their towns. Residents in Chelmsford have launched a 1,000-name petition against Tesco, while parish councils in north Essex met this week to address the impact of Tesco on their villages.
Meanwhile, Tesco’s dominance in the supermarket sector continues. This week’s ACNielsen TradeTrak reveals it has edged its market share up from 30.2% in April to 30.3% following a first quarter trading update last week, which reported an 8.8% increase in like-for-like sales for the 12 weeks to May 21. Group sales were up 14.6%, while total international sales rocketed by 19.9%.
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Rachel Barnes and Beth Brooks