Tesco in the Haverhill Spotlight
By Elaine Collins on Sunday, 4th February 2007.
Tesco representative Michael Kissman was in Haverhill last week as a guest of the town’s Chamber of Commerce...
Speaking to an audience of just over thirty local business representatives, Mr Kissman touched briefly on the company’s history before outlining a number of Tesco’s current policies and the company’s proposals for its new Haverhill town centre store.
Starting life as an East End market stall, Tesco, with profits of over £2 billion per year, are now the world’s third largest supermarket chain.
Mr Kissman emphasised the company’s commitment to supporting local communities with a view to strengthening its position as a ‘good neighbour’. Store managers are encouraged to interact with the local community to the extent that elements of a store’s performance are measured on this basis.
Focusing attention on Haverhill, he explained that a resolution for planning permission has been granted for a 40,000 sq. ft. store at the Station Yard site. This will make the proposed store a third bigger than Tesco’s store in Sudbury. The Tesco complex will include a coffee shop, 450 car parking spaces, a recycling facility, new vehicular access and improved pedestrian linkage with the town centre. Approximately 300 new jobs will be created.
Turning to environmental issues, in line with Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy’s recent pledge to deliver “a revolution in green consumption’, Mr Kissman described the company’s new measures to save energy and reduce its carbon footprint.
As fascinating as this was, the main topics of discussion centred on Tesco’s non-food strategy for the Haverhill store, integration with town centre, road re-alignment and access to the store.
Members of the audience were at pains to point out that Tesco, with nearly a third of the UK’s grocery market, is steadily building up its share of non-food markets for CDs, clothing, fuel and electrical goods, as well as insurance and other financial services. But despite giving reassurances that initially there would be limited access to the full non-food range, Mr Kissman conceded that this provision could be reassessed at some future stage. Several speakers expressed grave concerns regarding the impact on retailers in the town centre.
Although the audience returned again and again – with some passion - to the proposed realignment of the road plan, Mr Kissman explained that it was proving to be a very challenging idea and that the outcome would be revealed later in the week.
One speaker suggested that re-orientating the store to face the town centre, rather than away as it currently appears in plans, might help to improve integration.
Mr Kissman ended his presentation reaffirming how keen Tesco is to become involved with the local community and local organisations to facilitate “working together to support Haverhill”.
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