Sunday, October 02, 2011

Tesco feeling poorly

From The Guardian 3 October 2011
Tesco is expected to reveal this week that it has suffered its worst six months in the UK for 20 years, as cash-strapped shoppers cut back on food, books, clothes and electrical goods.
In delivering first-half financial results on Wednesday, Britain's largest retailer will report its first fall in UK like-for-like sales – which exclude gains from new stores – since the early 1990s recession. In 1991, Sainsbury's was the UK's biggest supermarket chain, and it is also expected to report sluggish sales this week.
The figures will underline how even well-established supermarkets, usually regarded as the last high-street shops to suffer in a slowing economy, are struggling in the downturn.
Amid the government's austerity cuts, rising unemployment and falling real incomes, consumers are trading down to cheaper ranges and flocking to discount chains such as Aldi and Lidl. They are also buying less food, Peter Marks, the boss of the Co-operative Group, said recently, which sets this downturn apart from previous economic hard times.
To lure back shoppers, Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke, who took over from Sir Terry Leahy in March, has pledged to cut prices by between 10% and 30% on more than 3,000 products, mainly food. However, a survey on Sunday showed that the prices of Tesco's fastest-selling products had gone up by 12%, with only 10 of 97 items cheaper by more than 10% than in early August.
The supermarket, which controls nearly a third of Britain's grocery market, makes 20% of its UK sales in "discretionary" items such as clothes, electrical goods, books and DVDs. In the current downturn, consumers are cutting back on such spending, especially on big ticket items.
Electrical retailer Dixons has also been hit by the downturn, with UK sales slumping 10% in the quarter to 23 July. Many shoppers avoid buying anything that is non-essential, and some retail executives believe this Christmas could be the worst at the tills for decades.
City analysts expect Tesco to report a drop of nearly 1% in underlying UK sales in the six months to the end of August, but the rate of decline has been getting faster in recent weeks. Estimates for the final three months of the period are for falls of up to 2%. If the rate of food inflation were taken into account, the sales declines would be larger.
A Tesco spokesman declined to comment on the forecasts. He said other retailers envy Tesco's position and added: "This is a very successful company. The UK is not at its healthiest." Tesco operates in 14 countries. It is still forecast to increase its overall trading profit by 7% to £1.81bn for the first half, largely thanks to a strong performance from its overseas stores. However, it still makes more than 75% of its profits from its domestic market.
Retail analyst Jerome Samuel at HSBC said Tesco's growth has slowed rapidly, from 11% between 1997 and 2009 to 5.8% in the recent recession and 7.2% last year, but he added that the move into discretionary goods, together with the tough economic conditions, is hitting growth.
Analysts reckon Tesco's "price drop" campaign could trigger another supermarket price war. "We think this is not a one-off move from Tesco," said James Collins at Deutsche Bank, "and that we are likely to see more assertive action to which competitors are likely to feel the need to respond."
John Kershaw at Bank ofAmerica Merrill Lynch agreed: "Given the deterioration in the macro-backdrop, the outperformance of the discounters, and with Mr Clarke firmly ensconced in the role [of chief executive], we expect a more sustained effort to keep pricing close to Asda."
He expects Asda to respond if it is to stand behind its "10% cheaper" guarantee, and for Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Ocado to match at least some of Tesco's price cuts.
Tesco dates back to 1919, when Jack Cohen started selling surplus groceries from a market stall in London's East End. (The name uses the initials of a business colleague as well as the first two letters of his surname). It became Britain's biggest independent petrol retailer in 1991, and started its own organic range in 1992. The first Tesco Express opened in 1994, and the Clubcard was launched in 1995. Two years later, the chain branched out into banking, and clothing in 2002.
Sainsbury's, which sells proportionately more food and less homewares and clothing, is expected to post underlying sales growth of just 0.7% for the 16 weeks to 1 October.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two newspaper articles about Castle Douglas and Tesco

The Times 9 October 2009

Tom Maxwell
They called it the Tesco effect, and for most small towns in Scotland it came accompanied by doom-laden warnings of empty high streets and bankrupt shops. The inexorable advance of the superstore would, it was confidently predicted, wipe out small businesses and suck the lifeblood from local economies.
This week, as Tesco announced profits of more than £3 billion, The Times carried out its own survey of towns which have experienced the Tesco effect. We asked local traders who fought — and mainly lost — the battle to resist the advance of the superstore, what the long-term effect had been.
The results suggest that some Scottish towns have managed to stage a fightback, raising their game to counteract the Tesco impact, developing more specialised shops, and even using the extra customers drawn into the town to start ambitious regeneration plans. The fact that they seem to be weathering the storm, not only of Tesco, but the recession, suggests that Scottish entrepreneurialism may not be entirely dead.
North Berwick is typical. The East Lothian town staged a high-profile anti-Tesco campaign in 2007, with Pinbat (People in North Berwick against Tesco) vehemently arguing that a new superstore would suck money out of the centre of the seaside town.
This week, however, Gregor Murray, the chief executive of the Midlothian and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce, said that, rather than retreating in the face of the Tesco effect, retailers have “risen to the challenge” of the supermarket.
“A lot of the quality shops, such as the butcher’s, have done well,” he explained. “There is a greater focus now on providing good quality and personal service.”
Pat Burton, chair of the local community council, says that North Berwick’s high street remains "vibrant", saying that customers have "stayed loyal" to the butchers, delicatessen and fish shop.
She said, because the town now had a Tesco of its own, the residents who had been driving to Haddington were able to stay and do their shopping in North Berwick.
Over in Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire, fears were voiced that Scotland’s only designated Food Town would be hit hard by the arrival of a Tesco superstore in 2006. Alistair Livingston, who was behind the Save Our Shops campaign in the town, said that Castle Douglas had been affected, but not in the way he imagined.
After Tesco opened its doors, the Co-op closed its existing town centre branch and built a smaller store near by. The site it had vacated is now occupied by a branch of the household goods store Wilkinson.
“More people were worried about Wilkinson opening up than they were about Tesco,” explained Mr Livingston. “They felt its range of products was more damaging and a chamber of trade was set up in response. That has gone a bit quiet again, but you can see that, in response to Tesco, butchers are making a much bigger play on the fact that they are using local produce. While they once sold just meat, they are now showing greater initiative and are branching out into things such as ready-made meals that you can put in a pan. They have to work a bit harder." He said that local traders had proved resilient in the face of the superstore challenge. “As quickly as one shop closes, another opens in its place,” he said, adding: “There are no big, empty spaces in the town.”
The key to the town’s relative success lay in the planning stage when limits were placed on what Tesco could do. The superstore had planned to have a butcher’s, café and petrol station — all of which they were denied. They were also limited to just 15 per cent non-food floorspace (this is low — nearby Lockerbie’s Tesco has 33 per cent non-food floorspace).
"If it’s a battle over food sales only then the butchers and other food traders in the town can compete, but if it's a question of Tesco selling clothing and televisions then local shops can’t compete," he concluded.
That is not the case in the Perthshire town of Blairgowrie, where Tesco was given a free run in 2005, relocating from a small store in the town centre to a massive superstore on the outskirts, a move which one trader described as having “decimated” the local shops.
In response, local business people have established the Blairgowrie and Rattray Regeneration Company. “We are hitting back in a big way,” said chairman Colin Stewart. The company, which has received a £1.5 million grant from the Scottish government Town Centre Regeneration Fund, is exploring the possibility of locating a screw turbine in the River Ericht, from which it hopes to generate £40,000 per year to sell to the National Grid. It also hopes to build a “world-class, state-of-the-art” visitor centre, said Mr Stewart, with the long-term aim of attracting an extra 60,000 to 70,000 visitors per year to the town. “The important thing is that everybody is working together,” he added.
The same cannot be said of Dumfries. Rab Smith, chairman of the Dumfries Retailers Association, says that there are now 54 empty buildings in the town, compared to 25 when Tesco opened the first of its two out-of-town superstores five years ago. With the subsequent openings of a Tesco convenience shop and, in June this year, a second retail park superstore, Mr Smith said that independent Dumfries shop owners have been “absolutely slammed”.
“Most little towns in Scotland are not built for traffic and easy parking,” he said. “Then a Tesco goes out of town, close to the bypass and offers 2,000 parking spaces free of charge, while selling everything your town sells for less ... it’s almost an impossible situation.”
The same seems to be true of Galashiels, where opposition to Tesco took the form of public meetings and angry protest. A local farmer, Tom Douglas, made his feelings abundantly clear when he displayed a 40-foot-long sign saying “Tesco sucks” on a hill overlooking Galashiels town centre. But the campaign failed, and the town’s Tesco superstore, which was extended in 2006, now occupies the site of what had once been an Edwardian textiles college. A member of the Borders Heritage at Risk campaign, Mr Douglas said: “Tesco bulldozed what is a memorial to the working men of Gala as if it were a thorn in their flesh.”
Alan Dickson, a director of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce, said: “There’s no denying that the high street is in a poor state and Tesco and Asda are not helping. Independent retailers should take on the supermarkets in their own way by giving good customer service and be good at what they’re selling. Supermarkets are part of society now and we’ve got to live with it ... but only to a point.”
The conclusion seems to be that, if communities get together to fight the Tesco effect, then they can use it to boost the profile and the wealth of their local town. But if they stand back and hope for the best, the superstore will steamroller hopes, ambitions, and a large slice of the local economy.
In June 2005 :
– there were 132 businesses trading in Castle Douglas town centre, of which 75 (57%) were shops.
– there were two vacant premises; a cafe and a charity shop.
– of the 75 shops, 30 (40%) had begun trading or changed ownership since 2000.
In February 2009:
– there were 127 business trading in Castle Douglas town centre, of which 67 (53%) were shops.
– there are now seven vacant premises.
– there has been an overall loss of 5 (4%) businesses since June 2005.
– there has been an overall loss of 8 (11%) of shops since June 2005. These include recent (2009) closure of Woolworths, a fishmongers and Victoria Wine
The supermarket is Scotland’s biggest retailer and largest private sector employer, with 140 stores employing more than 26,000 staff.
It also has 13 branches of Dobbies Garden Centres in Scotland.
The supermarket works with more than 150 Scottish producers and in the past year has started more than 115 new lines from local Scottish suppliers.
In total, Scottish suppliers provide more than 1,500 lines worth £2.1 billion sales per year in UK stores.
Tesco claims to be on target to deliver 1,500 new jobs in Scotland in 2009.

When the original planning application for a Tesco supermarket in Scotland’s first Food Town became public in 2004, there was a flood of angst-ridden comment from residents and local politicians alike.
Cate Devine Published on 10 Nov 2009
They feared that Castle Douglas’s unique designation would be shattered, and its tourist trade along with it.
“This will reduce Castle Douglas to just another run-down rural market town,” they said. “It will destroy the local high-quality retailers and producers for which the town is renowned. There is no need for this Tesco..”
Nevertheless, a medium-sized Tesco store opened in the Galloway town in 2006. Three years on, an uneasy alliance prevails – even if the first sight to greet visitors entering the town, which got its designation as Scotland’s first Food Town in 2002, is a sign saying: “Welcome to Tesco.”
On the face of it, the one-street town is still thriving: there are four butchers, two bakers, one greengrocer, three delicatessens, a sweetie shop and several cafes dotted down the historic thoroughfare of King Street. Every Tuesday and Friday, there
is Wyllie McCulloch’s fresh fish stall Ferry Fish, which has been in the same spot for 25 years selling wild sea bass, North Sea haddock and west coast scallops, lobster and monkfish straight from the boats fishing the waters off Whithorn.
Mr McCulloch and his wife Linda sell all over Wigtownshire, and on the day we visited there were queues down the street.
At Tesco, on the other hand, there is relatively little local produce on sale except for bakery goods by Irvings of Castle Douglas. “Locally sourced” carrots actually come from Turriff in Aberdeenshire, a reflection of the multiple’s definition of local. There is no fresh meat or wet fish counter, and no cafe.
“Tesco’s arrival in Castle Douglas hasn’t really affected us, although it did force us to reinvent ourselves,” says Mr McCulloch cheerfully. “When Tesco and Morrisons opened in Stranraer, and then Sainsbury’s in Newton Stewart, that made us stand up. When Tesco arrived here we thought to ourselves, how can we fight these fellows? Now we hand-fillet and bone all our fish, we shout about its provenance, and we’ve put logos on our van. The extra effort has paid dividends for us.”
He believes that Tesco has attracted more people to stay in the town to do their shopping, and is also optimistic that he will see off competition from the new Tesco store planned for Kirkcudbright. “There is still a clientele out there who want personal service and high-quality local food.”
The reason Castle Douglas survives as a Food Town is down to a successful collaboration between Dumfries & Galloway Council and the local businesses, says Steve Groome of Castle Douglas Food Town Initiative. “We worked very hard with the council to ensure Tesco wouldn’t have a fresh meat or fresh fish counter in order to safeguard the town’s unique shopping experience and to protect the independents, because they are what make Castle Douglas the town it is. Tesco has not hurt us as much as people thought it would.”
At Sunrise Wholefoods, however, Pauline Tilbury admits that business dropped by 20% in the first week of Tesco’s arrival, and has not fully recovered. She told The Herald: “The Co-operative store that used to be situated halfway down the main street moved to smaller premises much further down the hill when Tesco arrived. This has affected footfall in the shops in the immediate area.”
When a member of staff left, Ms Tilbury was unable to afford to replace her and in order to cut costs further she had to stop renewing her organic certification for the shop, which was costing £1000 a year. So although all her produce is certified organic, she is not allowed to advertise it as such.
She says Tesco stocked the same gluten-free and other specialist dietary products she did when it first opened. Tourists who would come in to stock up on health foods for their week’s holiday, now go to Tesco.
So she has started new lines and is now selling meat from her own smallholding, in addition to local eggs and a small selection of locally produced soft cheeses – not just the ubiquitous Lockerbie cheddar sold at Tesco.
She remains upbeat, however: “I’m lucky because the wholefood shops in Newton Stewart and Dumfries both went bust after the multiples arrived there, so I’m doing alright – as long as Castle Douglas retains its food town brand.”
Local farmer Jimmy Craig, who has owned the 19th-century Ballard Butchers shop for 12 years, also says the multiple’s presence has ultimately helped his business.
“I’ve changed what I’m doing. I’m trying to do more modern stuff like marinaded beef for stir-fries, different flavoured sausages and different types of pies, because that’s what Tesco does. You’re always looking at ways to stay in front. But traditional fare such as beef and lamb from my own farm remain bestsellers. People always want local.”
Fresh seasonal rabbit and partridge, pheasant and mallard, and traditional haggis bungs also cram his window. Business actually went up after Tesco arrived, though it has steadied up now due to the recession. “It’s not too bad at the moment. We’re not over-supermarketed here, but then Tesco was forced to downsize from their original plans, so they’re perhaps not as much of a threat as they might have been.”
Behind the idyllic appearance, however, there are signs of unease. The two Corsons bakers’ shops have been up for sale for about a year, and Mitchells the greengrocers is also on the market. An empty shop unit that for 15 years was the home of Dee Fishmongers has been To Let for months.
The petrol station at the bottom of King Street was recently put up for sale, and the tyre centre adjacent to the Tesco store has also closed.
Mr Groome says, however, that the shop closures are due to retirement rather than competition from Tesco, and another bakery is poised to purchase Corsons. He points out that Tommy Little’s long-standing pork butcher business was recently taken over by a young couple.
Tesco resubmitted its original planning application for a petrol station in 2008, but it was again rejected by Dumfries & Galloway council last August on the grounds that “the development would materially detract from the character and amenity of the area”.
However, now that the town’s only petrol station has closed, could the situation change? After all, the Tesco site has room for expansion.
A spokesman for Dumfries & Galloway Council said: “If Tesco wanted to pursue a filling station in Castle Douglas, it would need to submit a new application. The original application was refused on landscaping grounds, it wasn’t related to competition. Any new application would need to address the same landscaping issues.”
Asked if Tesco would be allowed to expand its existing store, the council spokesman said he was unable to answer that question because to do so “would prejudice any future planning application”.
Despite Castle Douglas’s relatively good news story, there is anxiety about the future. “Is something afoot that we don’t know about?” wondered an elderly local couple, who declined to be named.
“We worry that Tesco are going to apply to extend the store. That really would change everything.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Businesses trading in Castle Douglas town centre 27 June 2005 and 16 February 2009

In June 2005:

– there were 132 businesses trading in Castle Douglas town centre, of which 75 (57%) were shops.
– there were two vacant premises; a cafe and a charity shop.
– of the 75 shops, 30 (40%) had begun trading or changed ownership since 2000.

In February 2009:
– there were 127 business trading in Castle Douglas town centre, of which 67 (53%) were shops.
– there are now seven vacant premises.
– there has been an overall loss of 5 (4%) businesses since June 2005.
– there has been an overall loss of 8 (11%) of shops since June 2005. These include recent (2009) closure of Woolworths, a fishmongers and Victoria Wine

Major changes outside town centre between June 2005 and February 2009
– in 2006 a Tesco supermarket opened on the edge of town.
– in 2007 the Co-op closed their Superstore and relocated to a new, smaller supermarket in car park of their Superstore.
– in 2009, north of England based Wilkinson's opened a household goods/ DIY/ garden
supplies store in the former Co-op superstore.
The Co-op relocation was a direct impact of Tesco opening. The Wilkinson opening is an indirect effect, but has created concern amongst the business community.


The Survey
This was carried out on 27 June 2005 (i.e. prior to opening of Tesco store). The survey began at lower end of east side of King Street (main street), followe3d the west side of King Street to top and then down west side. Shops/ businesses on side streets (St Andrew St, Church St, and Academy St)were also included. Businesses which were new or relocated since 1999 are shown *

The area included in the survey was based on the area defined as Castle Douglas Town Centre by Dumfries and Galloway Council for retail development planning purposes. [Copy not to hand so Castle Douglas Food Town map substituted below]

Results of first survey were posted on Tescodeconstruct blog in June 2005

A second survey was made 16 February 2009 and changes since June 2005 shown in bold plus italic. At No. 92 , the Co-op supermarket on Cotton Street was added due to significant changes (see above) affecting this site.

1. Pye's - shop: newsagent February 2009- Fortnum, recruitment agency
2. McKerlie's - electrical contractors office.
3. McGill Duncan - art gallery
4. Holistics / Wedding Shop : dress shop and spa centre *
5. Bare Essentials : shop, lingerie * February 2009 VACANT
6. Scott Country : shop, outdoor pursuits, fishing, shooting, clothing .
7. Small Print : shop, offices supplies, potocopying and printing *
8. Sulwath Brewery : also have bar/ beer garden.
9. Guy Pollock: cabinet maker.
10. Carlos: restaurant
11. Douglas Books : shop, second hand and out of print books, good local collection *
12. Lily : shop handbags and accessories *
13. Video Venue : shop video/dvd rentals *
14. Littles :shop, pork butchers since 1924.
15. Hazel's : shop, second hand
16. Caring for Carers: charity shop *
17. Kings Arms Hotel :
18. Gelston Picture Framers *
19. Small Engine Centre - repairs and spares for small engines.
20. PJ's Cafe – February 2009 -laundrette and dry cleaners
21. Inspiration: shop, young women's fashions*
22. Anne's Hairdressers
23. Jade Palace: Chinese restaurant
24. Merrick Hotel: Indian restaurant
25. Spirit of Galloway : shop, specialists in whiskys and spirits *
26. Lyon: dentists
27. Street Lights: cafe/ bistro*
28. Victoria Wine: shop, off-licence February 2009 under conversion to betting shop
29. A.D. Livingston and Sons : shop/ workshop, restore, make and sell furniture.
30. Willow: shop, occasional furniture, decorative furnishings* February 2009 shop ,
furniture A D Livingston and Sons

31. 173 Deli : shop, delicatessen, sandwich bar, stock local produce*
32. Supersave : shop, household goods, recently enlarged*
33. Enigma : shop, decorative furnishings, clothes*
34. Debra: shop, charity*
35. Semi-chem : shop, chemists
36. Semple and Ferguson: shop, electrical goods February 2009 shop, ladies shoes,
Stepping Out (relocation)

37. Magick Broomstick: shop, new age jewelry, clothing
38. Atticus: shop, ladies clothes *
39. Castle Douglas Cycle Centre: shop, bikes* l
40. Roland Alexander: hairdressers
41. Thompsons: shop, jewellers
42. Gillespie and Gifford: solicitors, estate agent
43. Royal Bank of Scotland: bank.
44. Mackays: shop, clothes, adult, children. National/ Regional.
45. Superspar: shop, small supermarket. National/Regional
46. Blue Bell: small hotel/ pub February 2009 closed but “opening soon under new

47. Woolworths : shop, National February 2009 closed, now Pound Shop
48. Jenny Wren: shop, upmarket toys*
49. D.E. Shoes : shop, shoes, branch of national chain.
50. Lynsey Stewart: shop February 2009 shop, jewelry, Mode Designs
51. Moss Chemists: shop, dispensing chemists February 2009 shop, Boots dispensing

52. Gowans: shop, fabrics for dressmaking, curtains, bed linen.
53. Gowan's : shop/ showroom, beds*
54. Gowans: shop, ladies clothes - on street, next two at rear along passage.
55. Gowans: shop, gents clothes
56. Gowans: shop, saver shop.
57. Moss Chemists: shop, dispensing chemists February 2009, shop, furniture Inspirations
58. Livingston's : shop, gents tailors, established in 1896
59. Livingston's: shop, ladies clothes
60. S. Caven : workshop, clock repairs
61. Hewats: solicitors and estate agents.
62. Lloyds TSB: bank
63. Mad Hatter's: cafe*
64. Sunrise Wholefoods: shop, organics, including local cheese
65. Panache: shop, ladies clothes*
66. Livingstons: shop, ladies dresses* Last shop on east side
67. Sigley's : chip shop, First business on West Side
68. The Royal: was hotel until 2004, now pub*
69. Crown Hotel and restaurant.
70. Haughs: cars sales and garage. Off street through archway and down lane.
71. Great Wall: Chinese take-away
72. G.M. Thompsons: estate agents
73. Imperial Hotel
74. Bell Ogilvy: accountants
75. Clydesdale Bank: .
76. Low's – shop, newsgents
77. Solicitors Property Centre: estate agents.
78. Henderson's: shop, butchers,
79. McCowans: shop, fishing tackle, outdoor activities, pet food.
80. Tessera: shop, clothes, furnishings..*
81. Bryan Gowans: shop, paints, wallpaper, decorating*
82. Gowans: shop, carpets, floor coverings.
83. Gowans: shop, children's clothes .
84. Galloway Craft Guild: shop, local arts and crafts.
85. Therapy Centre: 5 businesses, beauticians, hairdressers etc*
86. Little VIPs: shop, children's clothes.*
87. New Images : hairdressers*
88. Stewartry Care: nursing care for elderly.
89. Posthorn 90: shop fine arts, jewellery*
90. Barber's : gents hairdressers
91. Opticians
92. Co-operative Superstore supermarket shop, [Note: outside defined town centre.
February 2009 large shop household goods, gardening Wilkinson. Co-op relocated to
new, smaller store adjecent to old store.]

93. Post Office
94. Barry Smart' s: shop, newsagents
95. Threave Home Hardware: shop, hardware.*
96. Corsons: shop, bakers
97. Phillpotts: shop, outdoor / sporting clothing. * February 2009 estate agents Giffords.
98. Cobblers :shop, shoe repairs*
99. House of Chocolate: shop, hand made chocolates and deli *
100. Galloway Gems: shop, crafts, artists supplies, crystals, gem rocks
101. Simply Delicious; cafe
102. Mitchells: shop, greengrocers and fishmongers, local fruit and veg in season
103. Cut Above: hairdessers
104. Halliday's : hairdressers
105. Dee Fish: shop, fishmongers, locally caught fish February 2009 VACANT
106. Grierson's : shop, butchers have own farm.
107. Cellar salon: hairdressers
108. Ballard's : shop, butchers, have own farm*
109. Corson's : shop, bakers, bakery at rear
110. Mair's: insurance brokers* . Was hardware shop until 2004
111. The Bible Shop: shop, books also Fairtrade products
112. Paws 4 Claws : shop, pet foods etc *
113. Sports: shop, sportswear* February 2009 shop, ladies clothes Pizaz
114. pizzas. internet cafe, * February 2009 Indian take-away Castle Douglas Tandoori
115. Scottish Pantry: restaurant,
116. Dunfermline Building Society
117. Bank of Scotland
118. Crallan and Winstanley : architects
119. Natural Choice: hairdressers
120. Kirk's : shop, shoes.
121. Douglas Arms Hotel *
122. Debbie's Flowers : shop, flowers*
123. Douglas Arms: pub *
124. Posthorn: shop, fine arts, *
125. Stepping Out : shop, ladies shoes * February 2009 shop, wooden crafts
126. Impressions: shop, bags, luggage * February 2009, shop, local paintings
127. Rendezvous: cafe, empty since 1995
128. Thomas Cook: National travel agents
129. Kyle Fenwick: accountants
130. Autobar Leisure : shop, camping , cars and carvanning supplies* February 2009
shop, furniture , Country Style

131. Carson and Totter: accountants
132. Ranchers: decorative ironwork, agricultural suppliers
133. Charity shop - Vacant for four months February 2009, half now fast food outlet.
134. Alba Herbs: shop, plants and fish, garden supplies* February 2009 shop, pet supplies
135. Mental Health Association :shop, charity

Map of Castle Douglas from Castle Douglas Food Town website. Tesco site not shown, but next to roundabout in top right hand corner.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

No Petrol Station for Tesco

15 November 2008

Stuart Gillespie: The Galloway News

TESCO’S plans to build a petrol station at their Castle Douglas store have been rejected.
The supermarket giants had appealed to the Scottish Government to have their proposals approved after local councillors failed to deal with them within two months.
However, after holding a public inquiry in the town in July, reporter Dilwyn Thomas dismissed the appeal and refused planning permission yesterday due to the negative impact the filling station would have on the landscape.
Tesco have revealed they are considering their options, but the decision has been welcomed by a number of people in the local community.
When Tesco applied for planning permission for their store in 2005 they had included a petrol station in their proposals.
However, this was removed in order for the plans to gain approval.
In September, 2007, they submitted new plans for a petrol station and as Stewartry area committee had not dealt with them inside two months, they appealed to the Scottish Government.
The plans went before January’s committee meeting and were rejected due to the impact they would have on the landscape.
Mr Thomas shared this view in his reasons for refusal, believing that work on an existing mound and the alternative landscaping proposals would have a detrimental impact on the surrounding area.
Mr Thomas wrote: “In principle, a petrol filling station adjacent to a supermarket in an area covered by a mixed use designation would be acceptable.
“The mound significantly contributes to integrating the supermarket development into the area.
“It also provides a reasonably acceptable soft transition from the settlement into the countryside, and has a screening function.
“I am concerned about the replacement of a significant portion of the mound by hard standing.
It would materially reduce the amount of landscaping at an important location in the supermarket site and at the edge of the settlement.
“I consider that any proposal for a petrol filling station at this location should be based on more substantial landscaping proposals, particularly along the northern boundary.
“While I have no doubt that the area can accommodate change, I am not persuaded that the impact of the development can be properly categorised as either neutral or low beneficial in these views.
“Indeed...I consider that they would be likely to have a significant and materially detrimental impact on the area in general.”
Another issue that had been raised at the inquiry was the possible impact on Castle Douglas town centre and the surrounding area.
While Mr Thomas dismissed these concerns, he did acknowledge that part of the national planning guidelines were dependent on high standards that included landscaping, and Tesco’s proposals conflicted with this element.
Commenting on the decision, Tesco corporate affairs manager, Douglas Wilson, said: “We are of course disappointed by the overall decision, but are satisfied that the principle of a petrol station was supported. However, given the comments made with regards to landscaping associated with this application we will now be considering our options in light of this.
“In the meantime, we would like to thank everybody who took the time to support our application.”
The decision was welcomed by area planning manager Ronnie Irving, who appeared at the public inquiry as a witness for the council.
Mr Irving said: “The council feels that its position has been vindicated.”
Local councillor Brian Collins was another council witness and was pleasantly surprised at the news.
“I was beginning to think the weight of Tesco was becoming insurmountable in terms of local government,” he said.
“The scheme as proposed isn’t suitable - at the time of the inquiry I did say it was “rocks in a box” and was not in keeping with the area.
“The petrol pumps would have been on an illuminated plateau and would interfere with drivers and people living in the houses opposite.”
Fellow Castle Douglas and Glenkens members Peter Duncan and George Prentice also welcomed the news.
Councillor Duncan said: “I was confident that the process undertaken by the area committee was robust and I am not surprised that the Scottish Government has decided to turn down the appeal.”
And Councillor Prentice added: “I am happy for the traders in Castle Douglas and am pleased that the reporter has upheld the decision made by Stewartry area committee.
“I am more than happy with their store in Castle Douglas as I think that the town is now busier than ever.”
Hayton Graham, whose County Tyres business in Castle Douglas also sells petrol, was pleased at the decision.
“I’m highly delighted,” he said. “They get their own way too much.
“It’s not for me I’m so worried, it’s for the young ones in the town who could end up having to leave.
“It’s very good news.”
Galloway and Upper Nithsdale MSP Alex Fergusson had objected to the proposals when they were lodged and believes Mr Thomas had made the right choice.
“I am absolutely delighted to hear this decision and think it is the correct decision,” he said.
“I was very much against it in the first place and was appalled by their apparent disregard for what had gone on two years previously.
“Removing it was a significant part in them getting permission and I would have thought a lot more of them if they had accepted that, but I was deeply disappointed that they tried again. I am delighted and it proves that you get the correct decision sometimes.”
South of Scotland MSP Alasdair Morgan was glad that the opinions of local councillors had been heeded.
“Tesco were well aware when they got their first permission that the council was not content with the idea of a filling station.
“I am pleased that the Scottish Government has upheld the democratic decision of locally elected members. They have had two opportunities to debate whether or not they wanted to see a filling station in Castle Douglas and both times said they didn’t.
“As is their right, Tesco proceeded to the Scottish Government and they have clearly listened to the opinions of locally elected members.”
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown described the decision as “a victory for common sense”.
He said: “It was clear all the way through this planning process that many local people had deep concerns about the impact this proposal would have on the other fuel retailers in Castle Douglas if it was successful.
“And more generally, people were worried that if Tesco were seen to get their own way again, it would be further evidence that they were trying to cement a retail monopoly in the area. From that point of view this decision will be seen as a victory for common sense.”

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Public inquiry call over Tesco fuel plans

11:13, Feb 21 2008 From Galloway News


TESCO have demanded a full public inquiry into their plans for a petrol station in Castle Douglas.

The ‘News’ reported in January that councillors had turned down the plans but the decision had been taken out of their hands as the supermarket giants had already appealed to the Scottish Government.

They lodged the appeal because their application hadn’t been determined within two months.

The matter was passed to the Inquiry Reporter’s Unit in Edinburgh and Tesco are now pushing for a full inquiry.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We have requested a full public enquiry because we feel the process is open and transparent and will allow everyone involved in the process to air their view.”

Galloway and Upper Nithsdale MSP Alex Fergusson, who opposed the application for a petrol station when it was included in the original store plans in 2005, admitted he wasn’t surprised to hear about Tesco’s plans and said he was prepared to fight against it.

He told the ‘News’: “If there is to be a public inquiry then so be it. I feel the case against it applies as strongly now as it did three years ago - nothing has changed.

“I feel the case against it can be put forward at a public inquiry and I am perfectly prepared to do so.”

Castle Douglas and Glenkens councillor Peter Duncan, meanwhile, was slightly taken back to hear of Tesco’s latest move.

He said: “While I’m looking to everyone gets the opportunity to make their case, but I am slightly surprised Tesco have felt the need to ask for a full enquiry.

“I would have thought a hearing would have been sufficient.”

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A third Tesco for Dumfries?

Story from BBC NEWS:

Traders fear third Tesco's impact

Retailers in south west Scotland have voiced fears for the financial future over plans by supermarket firm Tesco to open a third store in one town.
The company already has a large store in Dumfries and approval to build a smaller one at nearby Heathhall.
It has confirmed it is in talks with the council to build another store next to the Peel Centre shopping complex.
The local retailers association said it meant Tesco would take about 60% of all money being spent in the town.
The supermarket firm used to occupy one smaller site in the town's Lochside estate.
We have identified a need for further investment in Dumfries and that has led us to this development a Tesco spokesman said.

However, it subsequently moved to a larger 24-hour store at Cuckoo Bridge on the outskirts of Dumfries.
Last year Tesco got planning permission to build a smaller outlet at Heathhall.
Now it is in talks with Dumfries and Galloway Council about building at a Lockerbie Road site, which was first given planning permission 13 years ago.
The Chairman of Dumfries Retailers Association, Rab Smith, said the development would put further financial pressure on small businesses.
"We see business as simple arithmetic," he said.
Housing development
"There is about £2.5m spent in retail in Dumfries every week.
"The original Tesco took about £350,000 and that was liveable but the new Tesco store is taking nearly £1m of that."
He said he believed that if the number of supermarkets rose to three then about £1.5m of weekly spending would go to Tesco.
A spokesman for the supermarket company confirmed that it was undertaking "enabling" works on the Lockerbie Road site at present.
He added that due to the amount of peat at the location it was difficult to set a firm timescale for the plans.
The spokesman added: "We are very keen to develop the site - I don't think it has ever gone away from the agenda.
"We have identified a need for further investment in Dumfries and that has led us to this development."
The new supermarket would be about half the size of the Cuckoo Bridge store and create about 200 jobs.
It is situated beside the largest housing development currently being undertaken in Dumfries.
The Tesco spokesman declined to comment on the impact it would have on trade in the town centre.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/02/06 00:18:07 GMT


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Castle Douglas Tesco - here we go again…

7 September 2007
Planning application for construction of Petrol Filling Station - Castle Douglas Tesco

In March 2005, a meeting of the Stewartry (of Kirkcudbright) Area Planning Committee of Dumfries and Galloway Council gave Tesco permission to build a food store in Castle Douglas. The meeting, held in Castle Douglas Town Hall lasted from 10am until 6pm.

Midway through the meeting, it appeared as if the local councillors would reject Tesco’s application. Their sticking point was the inclusion of a petrol filling station as part of the food store plan. The councillors were clearly moved by representations made at the meeting by the owners of rural petrol filling stations who pointed out that as well as selling petrol, they also offer car maintenance and repair services. These essential services are cross-financed by the selling of fuel.

Faced with competition from Tesco, who can use petrol as a ‘loss leader’ (as in Tesco’s current ‘Spend £50 on shopping and get 5p/litre of the price off petrol at our stores ‘ promotion) the fear was that a Castle Douglas food store plus petrol filling station would put these rural petrol stations and garages out of business. This it was argued would have a damaging impact on the viability of Castle Douglas’ rural hinterland, given these areas’ minimal public transport provision.

This argument appeared to be on the point of swaying the planning decision, but faced with loss of the whole development, Tesco’s representatives agreed to withdraw the petrol service station. This change to the planning application midway through the planning meeting was challenged, since it appeared to conflict with usual Dumfries and Galloway planning policy. In other circumstances, such a change would have required a fresh planning application. Once the petrol station part was removed, the Stewartry Area Planning Committee gave approval to the food store part of Tesco’s proposal.

However, although the full Dumfries and Galloway Planning Committee were on hand to make the final decision on the Tesco application, due to the many procedural questions raised , their meeting was deferred until the 9th April 2005. Re-assured that the March meeting had reached a legitimate conclusion, final approval for the Castle Douglas Tesco (minus petrol filling station) was granted . The Tesco store was opened in February 2006. Tesco have now - see letter dated 7 September 2007 as attachment - applied for planning permission to erect an ‘automated petrol filling station’ at their Ernespie Road, Castle Douglas, store.

I suggest that , as successfully argued ( and effectively admitted by Tesco in their decision to withdraw it) at the planning meeting in March 2005 and confirmed by the full planning committee in April 2005, the inclusion of a petrol filling station as part of their Castle Douglas food store is a development too far. The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright is the most rural and hence socially and economically fragile part of Dumfries and Galloway. If, and only if, Tesco can prove that their proposed ‘automated petrol filling station’ will not damage the vitality and viability of essential services provided by existing rural (village, small town) garages and petrol stations should planning permission be granted.

Tesco are a multi-billion pound global company. Do they really need the tiny increase in profit this development will bring, given the damage it will do to our already fragile rural economy and society?