Planning has shot to the top of the political agenda in the province following the decision of the planning minister Lord Rooker to defer publication of draft planning guidance on retail development.
Brian Gray, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, branded the decision “an absolute disgrace”.
“NIIRTA is not against choice, but we are against large multi-national retail organisations being allowed to ride roughshod over everyone else.”
The publication of the policy document has been put off to allow for judical reviews into the minister’s decision to approve plans for a major John Lewis store at Sprucefield, Lisburn.
Dr Alisdair McDonnell, MP for South Belfast, said: “Many Belfast retailers will rightly fear this delay will leave the way open for further out-of-town stores. We are now in a position where we have no policy, no strategy and no direction.”
Gray has called for a meeting with the minister to discuss the issue and claims to have all-party support for his campaign.
The delay has increased suspicion among retailers in Newry that one of the major UK multiples could become a tenant of a new out of town development being built.
The 150,000 sq ft Damolly Retail Park is restricted to bulky goods outlets, but there are rumours in Newry that either Asda or Tesco is interested in the site.
The Association of News Retailing has knocked back plans by publishers and wholesalers to introduce key performance indicators. ANR MD John Lennon said that no retailer association could possibly accept any form of industry KPI for its members as they were “completely unnecessary and unworkable”.
Tesco is marking National Organic Week (September 3-11) with a series of price cuts and promotions on its organic range. One in four customers now puts at least one organic item into their trolleys, said the retailer, and a new trend to emerge this year was the rise in the popularity of organic cakes and lemonade.
Morrisons says it has identified Safeway’s pharmacy offer as a profitable part of the business and is looking to roll the concept out to its core Morrisons estate. During the conversion of former Safeways, Morrisons has rebranded the pharmacy areas as a store within a store in order to complement its Market Street formula.
Asda is claiming to have trumped Tesco with the launch of a personal computer for £279 - £120 cheaper than Tesco’s lowest priced package.
It hopes to tap into the back-to-school market with the deal, which launched into 220 stores this week. It is the first time Asda has sold computers outside its 20 supercentres.
The PC, supplied by Esys, comes without a monitor to allow customers to upgrade their existing PCs without the extra cost.
Nisa Today’s has had to recall its 45g packs of ground nutmeg due to mould growth. The affected nutmeg has best before dates of March 2007 and May 2007.
tesco organic push