SAINSBURY'S is set to challenge Tesco's dominance in Purley – by opening a new store in the town centre.
The supermarket giant is planning to open one of its Sainsbury's Local outlets in the building now occupied by video rental store Blockbuster.
It has this week submitted plans to Croydon Council for a licence to sell alcohol.
Sainsbury's spokeswoman Emma Garner told the Advertiser: "We are planning to open a small convenience shop (Sainsbury's Local) in Purley High Street, which is subject to us gaining the necessary approvals to operate the store."
Since Tesco opened its superstore at Purley Cross in 1991, there have been accusations the supermarket giant has forced small businesses out of Purley, as they have been unable to cope with the pull of the retail giant.
The addition of Sainsbury's promises to increase that competition, something newsagent Sunny Patel says he has mixed feelings about.
Mr Patel owns Good News, in Brighton Road, one of five independent stores in the area offering similar products to a Sainsbury's Local, such as newspapers, snacks and sandwiches.
He said: "It will not be a problem for me; let them come, they are too expensive to be competition.
"You just have to keep going. What can you do? With these big brands there is nothing you can do anymore.
"I will have to lower prices as much as I can until I am not making any money."
But Lisa Downham, chairman of the Purley Business Association, believes the arrival of Sainsbury's could be positive for the town.
She said: "A larger grocery store at this end of town would give an alternative to Tesco, provide employment and hopefully bring more people into town.
"However, the small grocery stores in between will feel the pinch.
"It is also important to keep local businesses strong."
Purley councillor Badsha Quadir said he would respond to residents' views on the issue.
He said: "On a personal level, I think it could be a positive thing. Having something like this could bring more people into town."
Sainsbury's spokeswoman Ms Garner added: "We open new shops where we have identified a need. These are often in high street locations where our Local shops fit in well and complement other independent traders and businesses.
There are already nine Sainsbury's Local stores in the borough, with another three - including Purley's - planned. The other two are set for West Croydon, replacing The Ship of Fools pub in London Road, and Parchmore Road in Thornton Heath.
Are Tesco and Sainsbury's taking over our high streets? Special report – pages 10 & 11