High-profile indie Jonathan James has sold his 7,000 sq ft Budgens store in Soham, Cambridgeshire, to Asda.
Last May, James pledged to sell the store to one of the multiples in a bid to rejuvenate trading in the town centre - on the proviso an application by a developer for a 41,000 sq ft out-of-town supermarket was rejected.
Just weeks later the application was approved, but James pressed ahead with plans to sell his store, claiming the town’s master plan showed a need for retail focus in the town centre.
“The town centre will now have one of the big four operators as its anchor store,” he said of the sale. “Therefore, until an operator is found by the developer it remains town centre focused”.
There would be no job losses as store staff would transfer to Asda, he stressed, adding: “The decision to let Asda operate our town centre store will be the start of a new era.”
The sell-off leaves his business James Graven with just one remaining Budgens store, in Dersingham.
James, who is also chairman of the ACS, has stripped back his original six-store estate over the past two years to focus on the development of a new eco business park, which he said would be “the core of my focus in the short term”.
Reacting to the news, fellow Budgens retailer Andrew Thornton said: “It’s sad to see independent retailers feeling they have to sell to the majors. It reduces diversity, and the growing power of the major chains means they have the resources to dominate.”