Sunday, November 12, 2006

Tesco: Every Little Shop Closure Helps...

Norfolk Blogger reports that Tesco has driven another local shop to the wall in Fakenham. Like him, I was very uncomfortable about Tesco being given planning permission for a new store in the centre of Fakenham due do its entirely unsuitable location and lack of accessibility. I'm not against Tesco, or indeed big supermarkets per se, but this one was just plain wrong.

And then I read THIS piece in the Sunday Telegraph explaining how Prunella Scales, having trousered £1 million from Tesco for her advert appearances with Jane Horrocks, now wants to support independent small shops.

You've got to laugh, I suppose... Unless of course you live in Fakenham... Or you own a small shop.


Anonymous said...

Its sometimes hard to think of the downsides of Tesco; low prices, large range of services, often convenient locations; the jobs; the economy. Yet they don't hold monopolist power - that is when we should become concerned what they're up to.

Johnny Norfolk said...

The Raindow is a grotty shop, Funny how people blame Tesco, what about the very large Morrisons in Fakenham should that not share the blame.

I shop at Fakenham market every Thursday and I think Tesco is a great addition to the town.

Perhaps the council should also take some of the blame, Tesco parking free. Fakenham 60p an hour.

Why do we knock success in Britain.

I think in the medium to long term Tesco will be good for Fakenham.

Bit frightend of change in Norfolk

Anonymous said...

Tesco must be stopped in its tracks before it destroys the country.They can be compared to the oil moguls of the last century.
Only last week we learnt that Milk will have to be imported because the likes of Tesco had bargained the price so low that it is not economic to produce.Beef is in a similar situation and any of us on a weekend jaunt into the countryside must be blind not to see the lack of animals in the fields.Tesco has played a major role in destroying the British Farmer.
However the big worry and a concern for us all is the large quantity of imports the company is negotiating from China etc- which is bearing heavily on our own manufacturers and is adversley affecting the Balance of Payments.
Great Container ships dock daily with Tesco imports of the cheapest of the cheap.In affect the Tesco shopper is selling the country out and it will not be long before we see the Chinese for example buying us out wholesale,Property Businesses and no doubt our Women, with the good British pounds Tesco is using to buy their Goods.
The loss of our high streets and smaller independent shops is small feed compared to the damage they are doing to our way of life and our future.
Tesco will defend itself in the usual style that the customer is voting for them with their purses and wallets.In reality the customer is drunk and drugged on the cheap tat and crap they can buy so cheaply.
How can it be curbed? -- It is interesting to see that some County Planning Authorities are exploring balancing the advantage Out Of Town Shopping Centres have with their plentiful supply of free and abundant car parking, by proposing charging all cars the same car parking rates as the nearby City,Market Town or High Street Centres are charging, and keeping the revenue to pay for improvements to the Transport infrastructure.
Additionaly stop the further advance into villages.

towcestarian said...

Poor old Fakenham! Ending up with a plebby Tesco's rather than a nice middle-class Waitrose. You really do have to feel very sorry for them.

Maybe those of us who are more fortunate with our local supermarket should be sending the poor buggers Duchy Oranic red-cross parcels to keep them going until a Farmer's Market convoy can get through.

David Lindsay said...

All you people out there who think that the "free" market is conservative, behold it in action here. Would you like to see it applied to the farmers, too? I certainly wouldn't, of course. But logically, you must.

Speaking of the farmers, they, along with small business, should be the beneficiaries of a windfall tax (if not a permanently higher rate of corporation tax) on the supermarkets, with strict regulation to prevent the costs of this from being passed on to consumers, small shareholders, employees, suppliers, local communities, or the environment.

And with regulation just as strict, how about a permanently higher rate of corporation tax on the banks and on the privatised utilities, alreday identified by Tory and Labour windfall taxes respectively, so as to reimburse employers' NI contributions in respect of employees aged 25 and under, and those aged 55 and over?

ian said...

But I thought you were a free-marketeer, Iain. How do you square that circle?

Anonymous said...

One of the big problems of our Great Country is DEBT and the lack of good INVESTMENT.
Tesco is helping with neither in its drive for top profits by selling cheap and short lasting poor quality goods from the Far East which mesmirize the British Customer, who is happy for cheap and cheerful rubbish whilst mounting up Debt.
We all admire the French for their good Food but are happy to buy from Tesco for an inferior product.
This hypocrisy is not only putting our farmers and small shops out of business it will eventually put the very customer out of work.

Anonymous said...

I'm deeply puzzled by your position on this Iain. Tesco is a classic successful capitalist operation, with booming profits based on screwing suppliers, forcing down wages in the agricultural and primary production industries and deluding consumers with substandard "low cost" own brands. Plus using their huge market power to drive better quality brands right off the shelves and into bankruptcy so that consumers no longer have the chance to even buy them, as with Walmart in the US.

Yet surely all this is nothing more than in line with Tory philosophy - higher profits, domination of big business, low wage economy, massive wealth for a few shareholders. What's your problem with this? As a Tory you should be out killing some people to steal their Tesco shares, or maybe setting up a rival company that directly uses slave labour instead of covertly via operations in China and India.

Also who could possibly be against the influence of Tesco, Sainsbury and the like on our political parties? If these esteemed retail gentleman wish to purchase a prime minister, who are we to object?

Piers, time to throw your teddy out of the window.

Anonymous said...

Surely Tesco have opened a new shop?

I ask, because a "store" is somewhere to store things which are not payed for when they are removed from the store, (though if it is a company store they may have to be sigend for)

Unless of course you meant supermarket. We are after all not American, who presumably borrow their term from the French who use theur word for store (magazine) for a shop as well.

So please speak English. I also hate it when the BBC starts using American as well.

Ah well Rant over.

On another issue more on topic, Tesco also seem to have a habit of breaching planning consent by building larger then they should etc. But then their boss is a Labour donor.

Jock Coats said...

They do, however, often have what one might term "rent seeking" on their side. Not specifically Tesco I mean, but those operators large enough to put up out of town or edge of town hypermarkets with very large car parks.

They don't, for example, pay the same rates for their acres of parking that they then offer for free to customers as town centre shops with little scope for such incentives.

This of course does not directly account for issues arising from a town centre branch such as I get the impression this one is in Fakenham, but the clear advantages they get from such arrangements nationwide can feed through into the ability to undercut others where they have to compete on more equal terms.

Anonymous said...

Evidently some people need a course in basic economics. Farmers should be driven out of business if they cannot compete - they are using land and capital inefficiently and so acting as a drag on the economy. Our true error for the past several decades has been keeping them in business with huge subsidies and restrictive planning laws. As someone above observes, as long as Tesco serves the customer, I don't see the harm, and if they don't, customers can move elsewhere.

Hey said...

Horrors, other countries can sell food to us! For shame. Food is a product like any other. Get the government out of food procudtion, so farmers are free to focus on the best way to use their farms.

Industrial farming in England's likely uneconomic, as it is nigh impossible to get the land or the labour cheap enough to compete with other palces. You can leverage the tradition and quality of the product to reach an interenational market, such as with Scottish shortbreads, English Ales, etc.

I do hope that the idiots complaining about importing milk don't eat or drink anything from outside of the country, and rpeferably nothing from outside of their own county. Localism and all that. No oranges, bananas, wine, rum, and everythign is only available in its season, so potatoes only from now until March, at least!

Tesco is great, a keen competitor, that forces the closing of grotty shops that are doing their jobs badly. It's not exactly unknown that there are benefits to a larger shop and easy access for customers. If a shop refuses to ameliorate its situation, assortment, service, etc it desrves to be out of business.

Why does Fortnum's survive when so many of its contemporaries died?
It took care of its customers. Once you think that you own the customer, rather than having to convince them to come back every day, for every item, then you are on the express route to bankruptcy and being replaced by a Tesco.

We've got enough Commies running the Tory party, no need for such leftist twaddle from a claimed Davis supporter. Iain you're off your rocker.

Anonymous said...

If the Thatcher government sold off the family silverware this Labour government have sold the house, car, pension, the wife, the kidds, and the family name, for no more then a pocket full of mumbles.

New Labour only love Big business because they employ Labour voters pay loads of PAYE and do as the government the local councils and the EU tell them.

Small business people now just curse the day their mothers gave birth to them and hate all politicians.

All business big medium and small is good business and should be regarded with care and consideration. The contribution that small retailers in particular make to our way and quality of life can not be overestimated.

"You dont know what you've got till its gone."


By then its too late.

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between free competition between small local shops and large supermarkets, and the agresive hounding and taxation of small retailers. Which makes running a small shop a truely unpleasent and particualy unprofitable wast of time and energy.

Not content with charging council rates for small shops per square yard that would make Mr Cohen spin in his grave.

Removing any hope that shoplifters will be arrested and punished.

Taking free parking spaces away and inforcing parking restrictions with a zeal only reserved for serial killers.

Congestion charging.

Inflicting red tape and extra taxes far too numerous and complicated to even list.

This government will not be happy untill every small local and high street shop is a take away run by Albanians. Or a charity shop selling things to people firmly stuck in this great government created poverty trap called Britain.

Anonymous said...

If only Tesco ran the NHS or the Home Office instead of those nulab cretins...

Successful British companies should be applauded loudly and supported for their efforts. Even Mr Cohen started with a small shop somewhere and had the same trading conditions to work with as all the other small shopkeepers. In this life you make your own luck and he made his. It's the way of the world that the cream rises to the top of the milk in every sphere of life and as for 'alfresco shopper'...

What arrant nonesense. He/she would do well to stuff his/her head back up his/her arse where it is clearly more comfortable and where he/she gets his/her alternative view of the real world.

Anonymous said...

You're right in principle, Iain, except that, frankly, Fakenham had it coming - a dingy, depressing little town that one must encounter before the glories to the north.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to crocodile tears about the unfettered work of the semi-monopolies in bif business, these's always a Tory queue for 'fakin'em!

Johnny Norfolk said...

The Co op that is closing has sold the site to Lidl. They are going to re build the site and open in 6 months. So perhaps the Co op should be targeted for not investing. Lidl can see the future potential why cant the Co op ( Rainbow)

Johnny Norfolk said...

We have a Waitrose that I visit once a week at Swaffham, its free parking and a very pleasant large store, it compliments the Tesco at Fakenham very well.

I think people hate Tesco because of its succesess

Anonymous said...

Prunella Scales - HYPOCRITE - greedy one at that - think thats the real story!

MorrisOx said...

There are two sides to every story and the truth about some of the local shops supposedly driven out of business by the likes of Tesco is that they have been slow off the mark in cottoning on to social change: everybody but everybody likes what they perceive as a bargain, not just people on a limited income. These shops have been slow-witted, behind the times, complacent, happy to let people come to them rather than go out and actually sell who they are and what they do.

Which isn't to say that I'm any great fan of the supermarket behemoth. They sell you a relentless 'lower prices' message but the reality is that they are usually not the cheapest, but the among most efficient. On non-food they get walloped by the likes of Wilkos, whose stock-turn means they are paying for goods now tnat they sold abd banked a profit on three months ago. On food prices, they are usually beaten by German and Scandinavian retailers. Where they are not beaten, of course, is on advertising spend - where they spray millions telling you about lower (but not lowest) prices.

I can't remember which chain it was, but I think one of the supermarkets tried to make a donation to a local playgroup as it sought to buy favour when opening a new store in a village. The playgroup's fundraiser turned them down, knowing the damage they were about to do to a local store. So the supermarket went over her head and sent letters to the playgroup committee...

Nice people. Not.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think Prunella - if indeed she has managed to extract a million pounds from Tesco - has been pretty shrewd.

How much financial support is she putting into her small shops campaign?

As to 'free' parking - how long will that arrangement stay in force? Our local supermarket (Sainsbury's - wash my mouth out with soap) gave it about nine months and overnight instituted parking charges. Refunded of course if you purchased anything in store.

Anonymous said...

Here's the rub.
"Tesco parking free. Fakenham 60p an hour."
Go and have a look at Detroit, where business taxes etc absolutely killed the heart of the city. Everything productive moved out and chaos moved in.

AnyonebutBlair said...

Tesco seems to hold a position in some peoples subconcious that the Jews held in medieval times. Tesco seem to be responsible for all of societies or a local community ills. People will soon be accusing them of a blood-libel and of child sacrifice! The ills are a failure of connected planning and local government, and no small measure of people shopping there. Take my village as an example. There is a very large Tescos a few miles away in Burgess Hill (and a nearby Waitrose, so Tesco is not a monopolist here). Most of the high street shops in my village are under pressure or have closed to be replaced by charity shops. The local Budgens is also under pressure and periodically threatened with closure. Why? Simple. The business rate has massively increased, increasing local shops costs causing some to close. Worse, they (the council) have restricted parking in our village and outsourced to zelous ticket wardens in the name of profit, making it very difficult to park in the village in the day to buy anything. For those with a car, Tesco is a better and more convenient option. If you want to find out why our local communities are threated by a monopolist Tesco (or Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose etc), you need to look at the policies of your local government and look in the mirror.

indigo said...

Tesco has got planning permission to open one of its "Express" (or, possibly, "Metro") outlets in a down-at-heel, traffic-clogged part of Greenwich (banks gone, solicitors office moved, first ever real sausage shop gone, real "fork handles" type hardware shop gone, bookies moved in and lap-dancing club about to open). Almost next door to a real Italian delicatessen that has been there for decades. You don't have to be Mystic Meg to see what will happen next.

Thanks to our crappy, incompetent, self-serving, NuLab "bitch", Labour Council, Greenwich has become a much more difficult place to live, especially in the last two years.

Johnny Norfolk said...


Your banner profile says right of centre. I think you need to change it to left of centre. All this hanging about with media types is having a bad effect on you.

You need to do more research before you pass judgement.

Anonymous said...

Come on Iain, you can do better than this. It is too late to sit on the fence. As George Bush might say 'Either you are for Tesco, or you are against them'.

They are the most evil bunch of lying, cheating scumbags known to man. They fiddle the planning system, build shops larger than on the plans they submitted, and fuck the farmers of this country royally.

This is a monolith that must be stopped while we still can. Have a look at the 'tescopoly' website if you don't believe me. The way they have screwed Carmarthen Council [despite not paying a penny in rates to them, fact fans!] is beyond vituperation. Wankers.

Someone asks why we knock success. If success is illegally carpet bombing the opposition a la Tesco, then next you will be saying that the war in Iraq is a success.

Anonymous said...

Slap on Parking charges comparable with the High Street, administerd controlled and the revenue kept by the local authority to reduce Council Tax.

Ensure Rateable Values are at a premium to the High Street, rather than at a deficit, because facilities are better in the new edge of town sites.

By making Tescos base costs the same as the High Street will they compete the same as corner shops.

Anonymous said...

Casual observer feels Tesco would be better at running the NHS

Perhaps-- cheap and tatty
-- imported in containers
--- boatloads of imported nurses and docs from china
--- tasteless and flavourless
--- medical care 1 year old like their apples and meat.
--- points for patients
--- dont worry darling you are going to die but every little second helps
--- a live by date on your wrist
--- a package taped to your chest with your ingredients

No tesco is just a lucky bully in the hands of tony blair

Anonymous said...


Its great to have a go at Tesco as The Dinosaur will crash eventually

Running the NHS -Not so sure

Pile the Bodies High and Bury them Deep.

Anonymous said...

We have a Tesco and a Booth's. Tesco have, so the gossip goes, just spent £4,000,000 on making their shop even more awful. The carriage trade long since went to Booth's and the common herd appears to be following. Get a Booth's if you live in the North of England.

Anonymous said...

Folks - I mean everything I said earlier about the great evil that is Tesco. However it is important you know that I shop at Asda [shit, but conveniently close] which is part of the even more evil Wal-Mart. But I want you to know that in no way makes me a hypocrite, no sirree...

People who shop in Tesco are evil, thoughtless people who care little about the environment and in the support of ethical businesses.

Me ? I am of course an ethical, green moral person who just has to support Wal-Mart because the evil capitalist regime has eliminated all other choices...Remember kids, don't do as I do, do as I say.

And when it comes to climate change,don't do as Dave does, do as Dave says...after all, there's no problem to big to pass the buck

Anonymous said...

Prunella Scales was President of the CPRE and has always wanted to preserve rural facilites. She would have been totally tied to Tesco while being signed up to them, I'm not sure if she still is, have to wait and see the Xmas ads.

Anonymous said...

Interesting no one has commented on the millions (probably closer to billions) which Tescos pays in taxes to this country, which would go on our hospitals and schools. Add to that it employs many more local people than most small business would put together.

And that the consumer is actually better off. cheaper, more choice, more convient. How many small business are open at 9:30pm at night when I want to shop, or during sundays?

Progress happens. People argued against the industrial revolution, but it happened.

Anonymous said...

It's called free market economics.

I believe you Tories used the same argument when you closed all the 'uneconomic' pits down during the 80s and 90s.

This is the kind of hypocritical band wagon jumping usually associated with the Lib Dems.

Anonymous said...

Good lord - the free market! In Norfolk! With those evil, profiteering forces of competition driving down prices for shoppers! Sounds terrible - I was hoping to keep the place a nice, quaint, expensive museum of family-run small shops lacking disabled facilities to show to my grandchildren in years to come.

Anonymous said...

It's free market economics - you know, the same argument you Tories used when closing all the coal mines in the 1980s and 1990s?

you sound like a lib dem.

neil craig said...

Tough if you own a small shop, not necessarily so if you live in Fakenham. It may well be that you consider being able to shop at Tescos a considerable improvement on the local shop. Indeed if an awful lot of people don't think so the new Tescos is going to lose money, which I think unlikely.

There may be a case for subsidising the last small shop in a village, but it is not automatic & should not be done out of some rose tinted view of "olde England".

Anonymous said...

If you want to investigate the problems Tesco cause - do some research on Inverness. Over 50% of the groceries there are already bought in a Tesco and they are planning a 4th store. The problem seems to be that the planners don't have sufficient powers to say no.

In general, though, I agree this is a difficult question for free market economics.

I don't think we should let Tesco and its other supermarket brethren drive farming in this country out of business as there is always an additional issue of security in growing our own food.

The problem is really that we don't pay the real cost of imported food, be that transport, environmental damage, external subsidies, or whatever, not that our home grown food is too expensive. We can only know what the real cost is if subsidies are abolished worldwide and importers pay the full cost of transportation, however that is factored.

I have no problem with only eating things in season, it is something I already do, although there will always be some things that we can't grow here (bananas etc). I absolutely refuse to buy onions from Chile or the like, it is utterly ridiculous when we can grow them perfectly well here.

I don't have a problem with the concept of supermarkets, just the way they abuse the planning process (with a little help from their friends in government) and the way they are allowed to manipulate their suppliers and customers.

Anonymous said...

Tescos et al are not operating in a free market. The large supermarkets have monopolistic power over the market.

Things like opening stores with low prices to kill the competition. Buying land and then reselling it with a covenant they they are the only retailer allowed to build a shop on that land ever again...

This government loves what Orwell and Co. used to call "State Capitalism" - big business does a deal with the government and gets to virtually own the market.

Oh, and farming in this country would probably be a profitable endevour if the CAP was killed off and the supermarket monoply buying power was dealt with.

Anonymous said...

As a contractor, Prunella Scales qualifies as a small business, so surely she should understand what it is to compete with bigger, more dominant competitors (in her case it’s probably Judy Dench, Maggie Smith etc) – so it’s understandable that she’s backing this campaign.

Real Business Magazine has just published a feature about how you can learn from Tesco’s tactics and beat them at their own game. You can access it through the website’s homepage by clicking on “current issue”.

MorrisOx said...

The free market arguement is all very well, guys, but organisations like Tesco have not attacted the attention of the Competition Commission for nothing.

By the way, Appleyard, don't think that North Norfolk is immune. There's an uninspiring 'convenience store' at the bum-end of Burnham Market that Tesco Express would have for breakfast.

David Lindsay said...

Alfresco Shopper raises the important point of the extent to which the "free" market erodes national sovereignty, because that is what is actually happening when a situation is created in which little or nothing is grown or manufactured in a country, as indeed in which key national economic assets are owned by people who are either not that country's citizens or not resident there for tax purposes. Do you believe in national sovereignty, or not?

Furthermore, out-of-town shopping centres have been a key part of an enormous change to the British landscape, which, like so many other enormous changes, has never been debated at a General Election, nor even in Parliament in any comprehensive or coherent way. Do you believe in parliamentary democracy, or not?

And Johnny Norfolk raises an interesting point about the Co-op. Thereby hangs a tale, although one which I fear that most people here would find merely amusing in a "Ha, ha, aren't they hypocrites" way (like "free" marketeers who want to protect farmers and small shopkeepers on exactly the principels that they rejected in relation to miners, steel-workers, ship-builders and so forth).

But there is more to it than that. Let's just say that there's no longer any love lost between the Co-op and much of the Co-op Party...

Anonymous said...

Let's get this straight. It is customers who keep shops going or shut them down. If they do not want to go to whatever shop you happen to be supporting, then it is their choice and it is that choice that closes the shop down.

Anonymous said...

"As George Bush might say 'Either you are for Tesco, or you are against them'. "

Indeed, has anyone ever seen Shirly Porter and Saddam Hussein in the same place at the same time?

Anonymous said...

To Ross Parker, lets get things quite clear. Tesco do NOT drive down prices. In Stalham, they sold bread cheap until the local baker closed. it's not so cheap now. And quite why competition is driving the price down when there is now no competition, I do not know.

As for Johnny Norfolk, firstly, I don't care how grotty Rainbow was, it was cheaper than Tesco. Secondly. The reason why North Norfolk charges for its car parks (most off them anyway), is to raise funding, appprox £1.2million in funding. If you want to make car parks freee, then we need to raise council tax by 25%. Alternatively, if we in North Norfolk has the same government grant per head as neighbouring Breckland gets, all car parks could be free AND you'd get 9% cut from your Council tax ! It's a crazy system when one authority gets so much more subsidy than the other yet Breckland has no coastline to defend and little or nothing to spend on tourism and tourist information.

Oh, and by the way, there are several hundred free parking spaces in Fakenham and the Highfields car park is council owned and is free. Rainbow also had its own free car park, so that is not an issue.

Anonymous said...

Helen -You may not have a choice except Tesco. They already have 34% of the retail trade and it is growing, as they continue to sqeeze whoever they can to get lower costs- and that is the problem.
Helen dont you moan when the country is broke with a balance of payments problem from all the tat which is imported from china.

Anonymous said...

Re David Lyndsay.
Capitalism or Communism create the climate for bully's and I elude to Tesco as a bully.
The British Economy is not a free market with the governance and taxation which we are enduring under this socialist new labour situation.A bully can survive much better in these situations and Tesco is doing just that!
A market creates wealth, and competition creates a move to perfect cost and price positions- however this is pene plain economics which can result in the economy putting itself out of business with low and flat prices and costs that economic viability is not worthwhile.
Tesco is pene plaining the economy because of its comparative might as a tescopoly and its infatuation of buying and dumping the crap, tat and scourings of the earth in its stores which is straining all economic sectors because the British are happy to dumb down and buy poor quality.
Great civilisations trade and those that export become dominant.
In Btitains case we are a net importer and are balanced up by the city's powers in Finance.
Tesco is creating a political environment for a political power downside and unless curbed now will go down in history as causing a negative economic and political gravitas.

Anonymous said...

In the comedy show "The Day Today", Chris Morris announced that "Tesco has invaded Belgium". This is starting to look eerily prescient. The real issue is that the regulatory environment has been politically rigged to favour the likes of Tesco - when they for example flout planning laws they get politely asked to alter their buildings, which they then refuse - and nothing is done. The ordinary homeowner is "required" to demolish on pain of court if he does the same. Similarly, Tesco and some other big supermarkets routinely harass, intimidate and blackmail smaller companies, suppliers and so on. Finally, they sell substandard poor quality food to a gullible and, sadly, very ignorant British public who prefer to spend their cash on cars and sofas than eating well.

neil craig said...

It may indeed be that Tesco's profitability depends on the people of Britain being "ignorant" or just that their taste differs from those who think they ought to be in charge & that they think Tesco provides good value.

What cannot be claimed is that "the regulatory environment has been politically rigged to favour the likes of Tesco" in a non-regulated free market Tescos would build more & larger & not have to schmooze councillors & the heritage bureaucrats. I don't think anybody opposed to Tesco is asking for a free market - they are asking for yet more restrictive political regulation.