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Tesco blamed for closure of shop

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: December 10, 2008

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One of the oldest shops in the neighbourhood, Peasedown St John's L&F Jones general store, has closed down, killed off, say its owners, by a new Tesco supermarket.

L&F Jones executives are now worried about the effect of a Tesco Express store opening near another of their local shops, in Southdown, Bath.

The Peasedown store, which has served villagers since September 1911, closed its doors for the last time on Friday, a year after planning permission for a Tesco Express just down the road was granted.

Simon Jones, chief executive of the retail division of L&F Jones, and director of the Midsomer Norton-based company, said: "It is purely because of Tesco, 110 per cent. We objected to its planning application when it came up.

"It has affected us aggressively all across the board. Forty per cent of turnover had been destroyed."

Three staff and some temporary workers lost their jobs with the closure.

The shop building was leased from the neighbouring garage.

Peasedown Parish Council objected to the Tesco planning application in 2007, on the grounds that the village already had two convenience stores. A Radstock Co-operative supermarket is still trading.

When the parish council was told of the closure, chairman Robert Butt said: "This is exactly the situation envisaged by the parish council in 2007, and we are now once again calling on Bath and North East Somerset planners to listen more closely to the people who actually live in the towns and villages where controversial developments are taking place as a normal part of the planning decision mechanism.

"Part of the sales technique for the introduction of a major retailer's presence in the village was that it would increase competition and therefore keep prices down.

"This was little more than a pipe dream, and now the competition element has been returned to the 2007 situation, with additional unemployment created in a period of economic decline, when all jobs need to be protected."

Mr Jones said that although retail is facing a hard time, sales in his company are not looking too bad.

The company has opened a shop in Coleford, bringing the total of L&F Jones convenience stores to 16.

Mr Jones added: "People should realise the potential that Tesco is having on retail – food, grocery and non-foods."

Nobody from Tesco was available to comment, but a spokeswoman for the supermarket said she thought the claims unusual.

"We normlly find that having a Tesco in an area brings people in rather than driving them away," she said.

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    R Bridges, PSJ  |  December 13 2008, 9:35AM

    I also have lived in PSJ aqll my live, and my family have been here for several generations.I can confirm that there was a Jones' store here before, where the bakery and hair salon are now. However, it was closed many years ago and there was a lengthy break before they returned, so it is inaccurate to say that they have served the village since 1911. I am a little suspicious of the claim that it closed due to Tesco. I read elsewhere that Jones renewed the lease in 2007 but only took a one year lease. If they truely had the intention to maintain a permanent presence in the village, surely they would have taken a longer lease (even if only to have a saleable asset, in the event that they had to pull out). That leads me to question whether they intended to close the store all along but Tesco was a convenient scapegoat. As a longterm resident (and Jones shopper) I feel let down that they have done this twice now.

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    Olivia White, Peasedown St. John  |  December 12 2008, 11:07AM

    This article seems very contradictory to me. Most blatantly the final paragraph, which states "Nobody from Tesco was available to comment, but a spokeswoman for the supermarket said she thought the claims unusual." So clearly there was somebody available to comment. Also Mr Butts comments that this has caused additional umemployment, when in fact Tesco Express employs more staff and therefore umemployment has been decreased as a result. It seems that Mr Butt doesn't really know what he is talking about, and is just looking for 'buzz words' that are often used by successful politicians, which Mr Butt clearly isn't. Mr Butt also implies that the majority of Villagers have been against the new Tesco Express store. Surely if the residents of Peasedown were that opposed to the store then they wouldn't be shopping there and this would not be an issue. Mr Butt fails to make any substantial argument that suggests he is acting in the best interest of the villagers. The Tesco Express store has offered us better prices! Mr Butt claims that the introduction of the new store has not kept prices down in the village; the only place where prices have not been kept down was at L&F Jones, which is why they have lost so many customers and is the reason they have had to close. I thought it was the job of the Parish Council to look after the best interest of the residents, not to oppose ways of improving things for us. Why Mr Butt is in support of L&F Jones I cannot understand, as I'm sure it is a company that exists purely to make profit just as almost any private sector organisation. The fact that they have 16 stores would clearly suggest that they do not deserve to be treated as charity and protected by local government. If they had a competent business strategy then they might be better able to cope with competition.

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    SJP, Peasedown  |  December 11 2008, 2:11PM

    I do not think Mr Butt has a clue about how the majority of people feel about Tesco opening. OK you do not get the full range of products you would get in a main store but it is a lot more than you would get in Jones and you are not charged extortionate prices as in Jones .They are the architects of their own demise. The Co-op responded positavely by revamping the store along the road and made a damn good job of it and i am sure the turnover has gone up.The people of Peasedown have been the winners. I am sure the Co-op employs more people now and Tesco most certainly employ more people than Jones ever did so i would say employment has increased in the village. I say to Mr Butt dont blame a company that gets it right !

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    PSJ Resident, PSJ  |  December 10 2008, 12:35PM

    I have lived in PSJ all my life all 36 yrs of it. Firstly I cannot remember there being a Jones in the village until a few years ago, it used to be owned by local celebrity Flan. I stopped shopping at this store when Jones took over due to the extortionate pricing and grotty surroundings. And the rumours at that point was that Jones had a monopoly on the local area and would drive trade out, and shortly after the smaller local shops shut accordingly, much the same as was discussed when the coop opened inthe village. It seems many people have short memories including Mr Butt who I assume has lived a lot longer than I have and certainly has been in the village as long as I remember. Times change, and it seems to me that opening a new shop in the village to enhance competion can only drive prices down thus being only a benefit to the community as a whole, if Jones had been cheaper then maybe people would have shopped there, but I will say that shortly after or maybe even before the Jones shop was revamped and halfed in size and variety. How can you remain loyal to a shop when you cannot even get what you need and if you can get it you have to play double the price than if you leave the village?