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Saturday, 26 April 2008


The sign in the back window of the car reads: Amesbury wants ASDA. When I saw it I wondered if it was some kind of astroturfing campaign.  A bit of googling shows that the early proposals by ASDA to open a supermarket in Amesbury hit a wall of opposition. That was in 2002. A more recent article at the same website group suggests that there is substantial local support. It looks like someone has become a bit more organised.

In any event earlier this year, ASDA announced that their programme of expansion would create 9000 jobs.  However Friends of the Earth - in a 2004 press release - has challenged this viewpoint and has outlined the problems that the ASDA expansion programme would create:

As Asda announced massive expansion plans today, Friends of the Earth warned that the company’s growth would be bad news for local traders, local communities, and farmers; and may not live up to its job creation claims. And the environmental campaign group accused Asda of avoiding local scrutiny of their plans by exploiting current loopholes in the law.

Asda claims that it will create “new” jobs, but does not say how many other jobs in local communities may be lost as a result of its new superstores opening, or how many may be simply replacing existing retail jobs. Trends in retail employment show that growth in superstores has led to an overall reduction in the number of retail jobs, and a trend from full to part time employment [1].
Friends of the Earth Supermarkets Campaigner Sandra Bell said:

“The increasing domination of our grocery shopping by giant retailers like Asda is bad news for local traders and farmers and means less choice for consumers, especially for those without a car. Asda is exploiting the UK market for all it is worth. Meanwhile our Government sits back and watches as retail giants take over our towns and squeeze farmers out of business. Planning rules must be tightened urgently to protect local shops, and the power of the supermarkets must be checked.”

Friends of the Earth has criticised superstore expansion plans because of the impact on small shops, the impact on farmers and on local communities and has called from planning rules to be tightened. Some 50 independent shops close every week, leaving less choice for shoppers, especially those without access to a car. The new Asda superstores threaten local shops and town centres in Dorset, Somerset, London and Merseyside, by diverting trade away from existing shops. 
Local planning authorities, including Tamworth, have told Friends of the Earth that they are very concerned about large mezzanine floor extensions to out-of-town Asda stores which make it hard to protect town centre shops [2]. Mezzanine floors can currently be put in without planning permission but, following a Friends of the Earth campaign, the Government has committed to changing the legislation. Asda seem determined to go ahead before new rules come into force, avoiding the need for local scrutiny.

The expansion will also increase Asda’s buying power, which will be bad news for farmers. Asda already has 16% of the grocery market in the UK putting it in a very powerful position over its suppliers. Asda is owned by retail giant Wal-Mart which is the world’s largest company with net sales of $244.5 bn. Suppliers recently told the Competition Commission that the situation had got worse since Wal-Mart took over Asda, twice the amount that said things had got better.

Posted by bigblue on 26/04/2008 at 08:07 PM
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