Tesco drops plan for Sherborne store after campaign

Chris Bush

Campaigners in the Dorset town of Sherborne are celebrating, after Tesco announced on its website that it would not be opening a new store in the town. After Tesco first revealed plans to open on the site of a former hotel, locals had run a huge 'No Thanks Tesco' campaign, and collected 11,000 signatures on their petition (not bad for a town with a population of 9,523).

So how did the locals fight the supermarket, and what answers does this town have as to how to hold off the march of the supermarkets?

The campaign

The campaign included not just the petition (which is thought to be the largest ever opposing a supermarket), but also a day of action in February, when local shops were boarded up for an hour to demonstrate what campaigners thought would happen after the arrival of Tesco, and protesters marched through the town with local celebrity Valerie Singleton to tackle Tesco representatives.

They also ran an online protest, with a campaign video and song, and a publicity drive that meant they have hardly been out of the local and national press since the end of January when the campaign was launched.

Not opening

In the end, Tesco said the decision had nothing to do with the campaign, but was a planning issue. In a blog on the company website, UK managing director Chris Bush, said: "We've held meetings in the town, talked to supporters and opponents, discussed with the Council and this week we have concluded it won't work."

"Protestors will celebrate, but in the end it was planning, not the protest, which drove this conclusion. Road access to the store site proved too difficult and expensive to resolve, the plan was not workable, so we did not submit an application."

Does the town hold the answer?

However, he also offered hope to towns which are fighting the opening of a supermarket. He said: "While the Sherborne protest was not the deciding factor, we did listen to it. When we say we consult communities, we mean it. We do it because successful stores serve their communities well and to do that, we need to understand the community well."

We have seen other examples of retailers bowing to local opinion. In October last year, Costa Coffee was given planning permission to open in Totnes, but decided against it when three quarters of the population signed a petition saying they would boycott the store.

Seven of the craziest supermarket glitches
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Tesco drops plan for Sherborne store after campaign

One of the most popular glitches, was a wine deal at Tesco back in November 2012, where a series of offers clashed, leaving a bottle of £9.99 wine selling for £1.50.

The 'three wines for £10' deal apparently clashed with a '25% off when you buy six or more bottles' deal. The 25% was accidentally taken off the original price rather than the reduced one, leaving the wine at rock bottom prices. Deal-hunters cleared the shelves around the country.

Perhaps the most popular glitch from Tesco came in June 2011, when instead of taking £4 off the cost of a £20 case of beer, the supermarket accidentally started selling the cases for £4. The ensuring rush was nicknamed the 'beer stampede'.

Sadly not every supermarket pricing glitch comes with such a happy ending for consumers. In March last year the bargain-hunters thought their luck was in, when Tesco accidentally priced the new iPad at just £44.99 instead of around £650. Sadly it spotted the mistake before shipping the goods. The small print on its website meant it could refuse to sell at this price, and refund their customers instead.

In September 2012, Asda was responsible for one of the most expensive glitches. The Asda Price Guarantee offered vouchers to customers who could have got their shopping cheaper elsewhere.

However, when certain trigger products were in the basket, the supermarket massively under-priced the shopping at other supermarkets, and offered huge vouchers to shoppers. In many instances the vouchers came to roughly the same as the cost of the shopping.

In April, a mistake on their website resulted in Tesco selling 8 packs of Bulmers cider 568ml bottles for £5 - rather than a six pack for £8.

Deal-hunters snapped up the deal online, and had varying degrees of success. Some had their order delivered in full, others had six delivered for £5 - and were able to negotiate their way to another two, while others were offered six for £5 or their money back.

October last year saw one of the most famous glitches, when Tesco Terry's Chocolate Oranges were subject to two deals at the same time, and the price dropped from £2.75 to 29p. There were plenty of people getting chocolate oranges last Christmas.

A buy-one-get-one-free deal went awry at Tesco in March. People putting four tubs of I can't Believe It's Not Butter or Oykos yogurt packs into the trolley were only being charged for one.

Soon the online deal-hunting community was in action, with one person bagging 50 tubs of butter and 22 pots of yogurt for £8.79 - a saving of £133.89.


Do you want a Tesco?

However, before you start making placards, it's worth asking whether the town really opposes a chain store. Bush was quite clear that Tesco wouldn't be swayed by a campaign if it didn't represent the attitude of the majority of the community.

He used the example of Sheringham, in which residents ran a huge campaign over 14 years, but Tesco continued fighting and won the right to open in 2010. He said that despite the campaign, a referendum in the town showed that the majority of people wanted a Tesco.

He said that the silent majority were often those on the lowest incomes who had the most to gain from the new jobs and lower prices of a supermarket, but who tended to be less vocal than those with vested interests in the status quo.

Bush also argued that supermarkets were not necessarily the cause of a declining high street. He said that it was down to a mix of factors, ranging from parking to changing lifestyles and rents to demographic change.

He referred to research from Southampton University which looked at six market towns and showed that opening a supermarket on the fringes of town brought more business to the high street - although he didn't mention that the research was commissioned by Tesco.

He called for people to spend less time blaming supermarkets and more time solving local reasons for the failure of the high street, and said Tesco would work with anyone who wanted to tackle that challenge.

But what do you think? Is Tesco destroying high streets, or can it bring people back to a town that has been deserted by internet shoppers? Let us know in the comments.

Factors damaging property value
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Tesco drops plan for Sherborne store after campaign

Pre-recession, homeowners would give little thought to the idea that local repossessions could affect the value of their home. 101 repossessions were recorded every day during the third quarter of 2011 and it has become a real concern.

A new crime map introduced in March 2011 was welcomed by buyers, but approached with trepidation by homeowners concerned about the impact on local property values. The map allows users to view crime statistics online by postcode to find out the crime rates and types of crime in any area.

It is widely recognized that schools with a good reputation increase competition and property demand within a local area, which in turn increases the values of property within the catchment area. Lose the school and the demand will cease too.

The devastation caused by flooding in recent years doesn't appear to paint a positive picture for homeowners faced with the financial and emotion cost of a huge clean up, insurance complications and the potential damaging effect on property values.

The proposed high speed rail link is depressing house prices for thousands of homeowners on the route and many homeowners feel helpless to stop tumbling property values.


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