Morrisons is championing its own credentials as a positive force in the fight to save our town centres, in a new report it submitted to Mary Portas' High Street Review.

The retailer said the report demonstrated that the majority of independent retailers would consider the development of a Morrisons supermarket as a good thing for their town. 

Morrisons commissioned the survey of traders in four towns where it opened a supermarket in the last four years: Hartcliffe in Bristol, the Rothwell store in Leeds, Wednesbury in Sandwell and Welling, London. More than half (57%) of respondents said the store had brought about a good impact on the town centre, while just 19% believed the impact had been negative. 

When asked what impact Morrisons' opening had specifically on their own trade, 38% said the impact had been good, with a further 40% neutral, and again, only 19% were negative.

However, the report received a lukewarm response from ACS chief executive James Lowman, who claimed supermarkets were talking up their high-street intentions while continuing to invest heavily out of town. He said 80% of retail space in the pipeline was for out-of-town sites. 

"Despite concentrating great PR on town centres, the multiples are focusing on grabbing as much cheap space as possible through identikit white sheds out of town," he said.

However, a Morrisons spokesman denied the report was simply PR. "When planning a new store we always look at town centre locations first and consult extensively with local people in order to deliver real benefits to communities," he said.