Thursday, January 04, 2007

Can a company grow too large?

Jonathan Sheppard, who runs the excellent Tory Radio site, has alerted me to this article in last weekend’s Sunday Times.

It suggests that half of all the new retail space created in the UK last year was taken by Tesco. That’s over 2 million square feet of shopping space, more than the entire Bluewater shopping centre.

Can that be healthy? For competition and for consumers? As a Tory you might expect me to be open to the market and accept that this is what market forces dictate. Well, in this case I’m not.

The increasing dominance of out of town shopping centres concerns me greatly. I believe that we must safeguard our town centres and most importantly local shopping centres. Not to do so is to be very short sited.

At least Tesco, through their Tesco Metro network, seem to recognise this too. However, in Fordingbridge where my parents live, they immediately disposed of the post office from the One Stop store they took over. It concerns me that, in this case at least, they put retail space and therefore profit before community need.

Providing easily accessible local facilities, not least shops and of course post offices, is essential to the sustainability of communities. In time, as environmental and energy conservation issues discourage us from such frequent travel, these facilities will be vital. We need to look to the long term and find ways by which we can support and protect local shops and shopping centres.

It's a theme I'm passionate about and to which I'll be returning in the coming weeks.


kris said...

Tesco do a job- and perhaps they do it a bit too well. They have also gotten very good at buying up properties of sites that their competitors may have fancied...

As for planning and Tescos....what a nightmare. There is a limit.

Look at Walmart in the US. They've done a brillant job at suffocating small town America.

Nice guy that I am sure Terry leahy is, Tesco need to be kept in check- somehow.

Jonathan Sheppard said...

There is a big issue in retailing Nick. Out of Town monopolies have developed dominated by supermarkets who now sell a huge amount of non food items. Competition is all well and good - but in some instances there really isn't a level playing field. When one supermarket proudly claims 1 in 8 pounds in the UK is spent through its shops then that is quite a sobering thought.