from Leo Gillen, MD, Nisa Gillens Supermarkets, Hartlepool
Sir; I was concerned by Lucy Neville-Rolfe's bizarre Saturday Essay (December 7). Was it tongue-in-cheek or a serious attempt to defend Tesco's move into the convenience sector ?
A trip to pick up a TV from a major Tesco superstore for an elderly lady customer shows commitment to their customers and community?
Absolute rubbish! If successful, Tesco will be able to trade against my business in the convenience sector in similar size outlets to mine while still enjoying an 8% greater gross margin from suppliers.
I welcome fair competition but when superstore margins are transferred to their smaller outlets in our sector, this is not fair competition.
I have written to the OFT to urge its referral of this purchase of T&S to the Competition Commission. I urge the owners of other independents in the sector to do likewise. A thorough investigation of Tesco's margins, available through previous representations to the OFT, should raise concerns with regard to unfair competition.
But back to the caring Tesco manager picking up TVs and the like for its customers. I trade in Hartlepool, the 11th poorest town in the country. I have served in the community as chair of Hartlepool Enterprise Agency, chair of the Economic Forum, as City Challenge board member, chair of the economic development and training board of a local community partnership and as member of the Hartlepool Partnership. All of these are bodies that bring inward government and private investment to poor and deprived communities.
In the 15 years I have been involved with such organisations I have never seen any help from the putative caring, sharing Tesco, nor for that matter from the superstore Asda trading in Hartlepool. I hope a referral of the T&S purchase will show that an independent with real community roots will better serve the local area than a PLC with shareholders in the affluent south east.