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Felixstowe: Tesco admits new Walton Green superstore would take £4 million a year from town centre

PUBLISHED: 11:00 04 February 2013

Tesco Walton Store

Tesco Walton Store

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OBJECTORS fighting proposals for a Tesco superstore at Felixstowe have today labelled the scheme “a repellent thing” which will cause “permanent damage” to the town centre.

Tesco has admitted that its 30,000sq ft supermarket at Walton Green will take at least £4 million a year of people’s spending in the town centre.

Of that sum, £1.7m would be from its own Tesco Metro, with the rest from Iceland, Marks and Spencer and the Co-op.

The rest of the store’s £19m turnover – way down on the average takings expected at similar sized stores it owns across the country – would come from Morrisons, expected to lose £4.1m a year, and edge-of-Ipswich stores, from which it reckons it would gain £10.2m, including a sizeable amount from its own Martlesham store.

Tesco does not believe its development of a 30-acre field in Walton High Street would have a significant adverse impact on the town centre – and claims it would not force any supermarkets to close.

What Tesco says . . .

Many people in Felixstowe are now doing their main shop out-of-town – a habit which could wreck the town centre in the long-term.

Town planning and development consultants Alsop Verrill, in their planning and retail assessment of the Walton Green scheme for Tesco and Trinity College, Cambridge, say this is a trend which a new Tesco could help to reverse.

The company said there is a “clearly emerging trend” showing that those using Felixstowe town centre for their main food shopping are the elderly, those without children and those without cars, and these would probably stay loyal to these shops.

Families and adults though used Waitrose, Tesco at Martlesham, Sainsbury and Asda – and could be persuaded to shop closer to home.

“A troubling by-product of more and more people doing their main food shopping significantly away from Felixstowe is the growing familiarity and acclimatisation of this habit and what might be seen as a disinclination to do any or much shopping close to home,” said the report.

“The age profiles of those shopping in Ipswich are typically younger than those that shop in Felixstowe. This suggests that younger generations will grow up believing that this is the way to shop.

“Unless Felixstowe improves its own shopping offer in a way that matches the expectations of people shopping out of town, the drift from local shopping will continue, to the long-term detriment of the town centre and its businesses.”

A new superstore would claw back money to the town by meeting the day to day needs of its population with the spin-off benefits of people also doing other shopping locally, too.

In fact, the company says its new store will bring between £2m and £3m to the town centre through people doing their food shop at Walton Green and then going into Hamilton Road to buy other day-to-day household items they would have bought out-of-town.

The Walton Felixstowe Community First action group – which is fighting the development – disagrees.

Its planning expert, David Matson said the Tesco scheme was “a repellent thing” which would cause “permanent damage” to the town centre.

“Tesco ask us to believe that they wish to invest in a store that will achieve 62pc of their national average turnover per sq ft. This is either bad business or not credible,” he said.

“Tesco forecasts the new underperforming store will divert £4m of town centre trade. Should it achieve closer to average trading levels, significant further trade will be sucked from Felixstowe town centre, reducing footfall and turnover for all town centre businesses.”

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