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Convenience Croydon: The impact of chain supermarkets on independent shops

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THE PRICE OF CONVENIENCE: In the second instalment of our series looking at the growing tide of chain supermarkets on our high streets, Rachel Millard investigates the impact the arrival of a Tesco Express has had on a previously independent shopping parade... THE parade of shops in Bywood Avenue, a quiet residential street in Ashburton off the A222, looks much like parades up and down the borough.

It includes most things people might need, including an MOT garage, hair salon, pharmacist, doctor's surgery, off-licence and a chippie.

Also, like an increasing number of others, it includes a Tesco Express taking up two storefronts in the middle of the parade.

The red, white and blue lettering went up at numbers 10 to 14 eight years ago and the parade has gradually been reshaped around it.

Jamani Salim, owner of Bywood A-Z Hardware two doors down, was selling fruit and vegetables until Tesco Express came along.

Mr Salim, who lives above the store with his family, said: "We were a greengrocer until Tesco opened. We struggled for three months but what could we do? We had to change. So after six months we changed into a hardware store.

"It takes a lot more investment and hard work. I don't mind hard work, but the investment is a lot."

Across the road, a bustling cafe opened five years ago in a building that used to house a florist.

It is not clear why the florist left, but Bywood Deli owes at least some of its success to not competing with the Tesco Express.

Owner Karen Andrews said: "If anything, Tesco helps, because it means there are more people around. They have got a cash machine outside which brings a lot of people.

"It is also helpful for me as I if I have run out of milk I can go across the road and get some."

A few doors down, Portland Wines is ticking along selling similar products to Tesco – packaged food, household basics and so on. Its owner, Ariyaratnam Sudthaharan, said he was most irked at Tesco having beat him to a major earner, a National Lottery ticket terminal.

"They have got everything," he said. "Even when I wanted to do the lottery in my shop and cannot get it."

The National Lottery says it distributes terminals "in the best locations to offer the best sales opportunities". It tries to spread them out.

Mr Sudthaharan noted that Tesco Express had spelled the end of a Post Office branch inside the shop. "Most of the old people do not like it," he claimed.

Mayur Patel has run Greenchem Pharmacy on the parade since 1982, long enough to watch how Tesco became a big player on the street.

He said: "The supermarket that was there before closed down because the big Tesco in Elmer's End took their trade away.

"Then Tesco Express saved the parade because after the supermarket closed down if Tesco Express had not come, people would go elsewhere."

For his own business, Mr Patel says he does not feel particularly threatened by Tesco, with whom he competes on "about 20 per cent" of his products.

"We cannot always compete on price," he said, "but we can compete on the range and on the advice that we give with it. Our biggest threat is not Tesco but the NHS; they are changing so many things and making it less viable for pharmacies to survive."

He described today's high streets as resembling "fish following a trawler": smaller shops feeding off the markets pulled in by the big brands.

He said: "That is the kind of business ideology: the supermarket brings the people in and then if the people want specific things they will come here."

Mr Salim, of the hardwood store, said he agreed with the assessment to an extent.

He said: "I 60 per cent agree because people come because you need the big name; they always want the big name.

"I am not against Tesco but they want to sell everything. They should sell what they sell and then leave it to other people to sell too, and then other people can survive."

The Tesco Express in Bywood Avenue was one of the busiest shops on the parade on Friday morning.

About ten people scurried in and out in twenty minutes, mostly for just a handful of goods.

Pearl Reed, 84, was carrying a copy of the Daily Mail. She said: "I come here just to get my paper. I used to have to walk further.

"It is convenient for other bits and pieces, too, and they are all right in there. Once a week I go to the big shop."

Roy Sawyer, 74, was walking out of Tesco with a companion.

He said: "It is very awkward for the traffic here with the big lorries for the deliveries.

"But on the other hand we are here doing our bit.

"We are resigned to Tesco. We don't like the loss of little shops but take advantage of the fact that it is cheaper."

TESCO Express Stores
  • Croydon George Street Express, 30/34 George Street;
  • Croydon Leon House Express, Leon House, Croydon;
  • Croydon Southend Express, South End Road;
  • Croydon Whitehorse Road Express: 111 Whitehorse Road;
  • South Norwood Express, 156-162 Portland Road;
  • Thornton Heath London Road Express, 1076 London Road;
  • Croydon London Road Express: 369-373 London Road;
  • Shirley Express, 10/14 Bywood Avenue, Shirley; and
  • Coulsdon Express, 2-4 Chipstead Valley Road, Coulsdon
Tesco Express stores with petrol stations
  • New Park Esso Express, 847-853 London Road, New Park, Thornton Heath;
  • Croydon Esso Express, 23-41 Shirley Road, Croydon;
  • Croydon Addiscombe Esso Express, 100-102 Lower Addiscombe Road, Croydon;
  • Shirley West Wickham Esso Express, Wickham Road, Shirley
Tesco superstores
  • Purley Road, Purley;
  • 32 Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath
SAINSBURY'S Supermarkets
  • Central Croydon, 19 Whitgift Centre;
  • Purley Way, Trafalgar Way;
  • Crystal Palace, 120-122 Whitehorse Lane;
  • Selsdon, 130 Addington Road, South Croydon;
  • Upper Norwood, 66 Westow Street
Local
  • George Street Local, 1-3 Suffolk House, George Street;
  • Croydon High Street Local, 59 High Street;
  • Addiscombe Local, 261 Lower Addiscombe Road;
  • South Norwood Portland Road Local, 122 Portland Road
COMING SOON... Sainsbury's Local
  • Site of Blockbusters, 6-8 Purley Parade, High Street, Purley;
  • Site of Ship of Fools Pub, 9-11 London Road, Croydon;
  • Garage site at 187 Parchmore Road, Thornton Heath
Tesco Express
  • Saffron Square, Wellesley Road, East Croydon

Convenience Croydon: The impact of chain supermarkets on independent shops


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