It prides itself on its local sourcing and community retailing, but Booths is facing its second battle with upset locals over new store plans in the space of a year.
Although the upmarket northern chain has won praise for its support for local producers and its pioneering artisan stores, local traders have reacted with fury over the retailer's plans to build a 12,500 sq ft supermarket on the site of a car dealership in the South Lakeland resort of Grange-over-Sands in Cumbria.
The retailer claims the store will create 70 full and part-time jobs, as well as 65 additional car parking spaces, but local retailers are concerned the store could close other businesses in the town which includes a bakery, butcher and greengrocers. "There's a danger people would park at Booths and desert the town centre," said Mary Ann Best of Grange Chamber of Trade. "What will happen then to our excellent independent shops?"
It was not Booths' intention to drive small independents out of business, said chairman Edwin Booth. "Local reports contain the views of vociferous traders who will be averse to any change that may challenge their businesses. Isn't this what competition is supposed to be about?" he said. "When all is said and done, customers will vote with their feet and support the retailers that provide what they want." The company had received letters of support for the store, he added.
Booths faced similar opposition last year when it proposed a 13,000 sq ft store in Barrowford, Lancashire. The council rejected the plans after protests from residents who claimed the store would result in more traffic and parking problems. However, the retailer has resubmitted proposals for a smaller 10,000 sq ft store and an increased number of parking spaces.
"In Barrowford, we have listened to local people, both traders and residents, with the result that we have revised our store design to acknowledge their interests and concerns," said Booth.