Tesco is embroiled in a massive greenfield planning row just days after Sir Terry Leahy said it did not build on undeveloped sites.

The Grocer has learned that Tesco is pushing through at least three proposals on such sites. Yet, in an interview with the Observer last week, Sir Terry said: “We do not build on greenfield sites. We are a responsible developer working with the community, not against it.”

Plans include building on a golf course in Barry, south Wales, while its intention to build on Brockhurst playing fields in Birmingham has angered campaigners, including local MP Liam Byrne. In Liverpool, Tesco has won a planning appeal to extend a store by building over university hockey pitches. The government reversed an earlier decision from the local council.

A spokesman for the Forum of Private Business claimed Tesco often went against local opinion. “It faces fierce opposition, but it digs in its heels and gets the green light from government.”

However, Tesco media director Jonathan Church said that 96% of Tesco’s developments were on brownfield sites. “Some people think we bulldoze applications through and bully councils. But we understand how to work with local authorities. In Liverpool, we’re replacing unused hockey pitches with facilities elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, Tesco has been refused permission for a new Express store in Barnet as the council said it would have a “significantly greater harmful impact” on nearby town centres.

Rachel Barnes

Arla Foods is closing its milk production facility at Sheffield Park near Uckfield, East Sussex, with the loss of 250 jobs. A spokeswoman said the facility would close later this year after the sale of its Express foodservice business to Dairy Crest last year.

United Co-operatives and Leeds Co-operative Society have both posted strong Christmas trading results. For the five weeks to December 31, total food sales at United Co-operatives, boosted by acquisitions, increased by 6.3%. Like-for-like sales were up 2.5%. Leeds Co-operative food sales were up 3.4% for the three weeks to December 31.

Londis is trialling recipe cards in one of its London stores. The recipes, which include classic chicken korma and chunky vegetable curry, were written by Suzanne Thorpe, from Londis’ tasting team, and designed by marketing manager Sarah Jones. Raj Chandegra is the first retailer to trial the new cards in his store in Barnes, south west London.

Foodservice wholesaler 3663 First For Foodservice is claiming a major breakthrough in delivering full-scale local sourcing. The company, which is fourth on The Grocer’s Big 30 list, has launched a pilot scheme in Suffolk. It is due to extend to Kent this month and roll out nationwide over the year. In Suffolk, 3663 is currently supplying a 220-strong range of local products.

This year is set to be another difficult year for retail, but food retailers could escape the worst, according to a survey by global agency Fitch Ratings. And The European Retail Leisure Consumer Products 2006 Outlook Summary predicts that Tesco will once again be pick of the bunch.
Milk plant closing

Strong results

Recipe card trial

3663 breakthrough

tough 2006 forecast