Tesco Ireland chief executive Gordon Fryett has accused independents' lobby group RGDATA of attempting to block his company's expansion through planning objections.
"I always find it a bit strange," said Fryett, "when RGDATA objects to us opening a new store. Retailing is about serving the customer and being progressive. It's not about protectionism."
But RGDATA director general Ailish Forde hit back: "We don't object to every new store," she insisted. "We only object when Tesco attempts to walk away from the planning guidelines. We are determined to prevent Ireland suffering the havoc Tesco and others have wreaked in the UK where 42% of towns and villages have no local shops."
Fryett claimed the company experienced more objections to its plans from retail groups in Ireland than was the case in the UK. He was speaking as Tesco opened a new store in Tralee, Co Kerry, with two more to follow in Ardkeen, Co Waterford, and Youghal, Co Cork, later this year, bringing to 80 its total number of Irish outlets.
Replacement stores are planned in Donegal, Carlow and Cork, with more new openings next year, including a hypermarket-style outlet in north Dublin, which will be the company's largest store in the Republic. The expansions will increase Tesco's selling space in the Republic by 8-10% per year for the next two to three years, according to Fryett.

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