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GUEST BLOG – We want a supermarket in our local area, what can we do?
Big Local reps work with local areas across England and the range of issues raised with them by local people is truly amazing. I wanted to use this blog to highlight an interesting conversation that has been taking place amongst reps and Local Trust about the role that supermarkets can play in the development of local areas. Last week, Linda Clark was asked by people in a Big Local area she is working with (Teams, Derwentwater and Racecourse in Gateshead) how a supermarket could be attracted into the area.
Tim Morton (another rep) suggested having a look at the North Glasgow Community Food Initiative (http://www.ngcfi.org.uk), which runs ‘fruit barras’ selling fresh, affordable fruit and veg in a range of community venues. They run gardening sessions at local allotments and cookery classes for local groups. Simrit Sandhu (Local Trust’s Finance Manager) has direct experience of working with Unicorn, Manchester’s Co-operative Grocery (http://www.unicorn-grocery.co.uk) which has been running since 1996. It also has a great video called Grow a Grocery Guide (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS8-ErCoMjs) to help others set up similar businesses.
Many people have seen the Channel 4 programme on the People’s Supermarket. Nesta is about to launch a book on it, called “The Secret Sauce”; a guide to creating your own retail outlet whose business is ethics and whose customers are members of a community. I’ll follow up on it when it’s launched (27th July 2012).
A number of reps expressed concerns about one of the big supermarkets and whether regeneration commitments would be delivered, and that in some cases supermarkets can be a magnet for anti-social behaviour. We have also seen the headlines about supermarkets varying their pricing depending on what they think they can charge and this can mean that smaller stores in poorer neighbourhoods charge higher prices.
Reps mentioned customer service access courses that some supermarkets offer and how these can enable local people to secure employment, but there are no guarantees. Chris Church who works as a rep wih several Big Local areas commented that the Co-operative has a good track record on community engagement.
Andrew Haynes (Star People Awards Manager at UnLtd) has experience of two of the big supermarkets coming into local areas and while he has reservations about promises unfulfilled, they did create flexible jobs which attracted local people. However an unforeseen side-effect was that care providers struggled to keep their employees who preferred more sociable hours and the better pay they received working for the supermarkets.
For those who want to make direct contact with a supermarket to discuss if any development is planned for their areas, here are the details of some of the larger supermarkets acquisition and development teams:
Supermarkets acquisition and development teams, contact details
Tesco‘s Property Acquisitions Department is based at Head Office, PO Box 400, Cirrus Building B, Shire Park, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, AL7 1AB Tel 01707395150 and ask for Property Acquisition for the North East.
Sainsbury’s Convenience Story Regional Acquisition Manager is Jim Bishop tel 07919299439 email email@example.com.
Morrisons works through Rapleys and their contact person is Helen Collier Tel 02072558055 email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asda invites contacts relating to retail development through its contact form at http://retail-development.asda.com/contact-us.php.
The Co-operative is looking for new sites and their contact in the North of England is Tim Hanser tel 07894784251 email email@example.com.
Can I add finally that it took me about 2 hours to find the contact details for Tesco and 15 minutes to find all the rest!
This is a guest blog by Niamh Goggin, Director of Small Change. Niamh is working with Local Trust on Big Local.