Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Local Shops Should Turn the Corner

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Local Shops Should Turn the Corner

Article excerpt

Byline: By Beth Neil

Tesco revealed record profits this week. Good for them, but where does it leave the local trader? Beth Neil found out

Ker-Ching, it's official. Tesco rule the retail roost. Yesterday the supermarket chain announced record annual profits as it became the

first UK retailer to make more than pounds 2 billion. One pound in every three spent on the high street winds up in Tesco's coffers.

The supermarket giant might be untouchable at the minute, but its runaway success has been criticised and led to accusations of harming other businesses and squeezing prices paid to farmers. Friends of the Earth claim Tesco's growth is putting smaller shops and UK farmers out of business. And the Forum of Private Business, which represents 25,000 small firms, said smaller retailers and suppliers were paying a "heavy price" for Tesco's success.

Tesco has fought back, with chief executive Sir Terry Leahy arguing its way of doing business was "tough but fair".

So should we be celebrating a Great British success story or lamenting the demise of the local trader? Consumer psychologist at the University of Northumbria Jim Goudie reckons a bit of both.

"Tesco has done very well," he said. "And good for them. They've been extremely well-managed over the last 10 years. A number of years ago they took a huge financial risk by buying up large areas of land, like at Kingston Park. Their competitors thought they were mad but, of course, it's paid off.

"And their decision to spread the range of products on offer, way beyond what used to be available at supermarkets, has been a masterstroke.

"But we should be concerned for the small trader and what this means for them. And also what might happen if Tesco gets even more of a stranglehold on the market? Quality could come down and prices could go up. …

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