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May 24, 2010



nice article Dave - i think you've touched well on the ambivalence surrounding this issue, which all makes me feel quite uneasy.

as a clapton pond resident i am in no doubt that having a tesco express on my doorstep will improve mine and many other people's lives - for starters not having to pay to withdraw cash or to use a card, and to have very cheap essentials like bread and milk. lets face it, there are a lot of less wealthy people in clapton who need cheap prices more than a chat with the local shopkeeper - this is not stoke newington church street and most people simply cant afford to subsidise local shopkeepers tills just because they are nice, especially in this economic climate.

i also think its slightly middle class and conservative to object to tescos having a presence here - i mean, its just the modern face of consumerism - in 50 years time i am sure people will be banding together to prevent the onslaught of whatever arrives to supercede tesco and we will bemoan a loss of character to our local areas - this small-minded englishness about preserving some villagy (sic) notion of local identity in the face of uncaring modernism is blinkered and unreal.

however, it does seem that, typically of a big corporation, tesco have bulldozered their way in without consulting residents or local shopkeepers who will all suffer from this new arrival in the form of massive undercutting and midnight delieveries, and there's no doubt that palm 2 is a very nice shop that tries its best to please customers and is part odf the community to an extent. these are factors that need to be taken into account and handled delicately and with consultation with the area and its residents not just accepted without objection so its great to see people voicing their objections in this way.

ultimately though, this is london, change and modernisation, even its most brutal, sometimes high-rise and faceless form, is part of the fabric of the city and always has been - i cant help but see the arrival of tesco, if handled correctly, as being in some way an improvement on the area - notting hill, islington, kensington, they all have tescos and they're all still rather nice places to live. Having choice is a great benefit to any resident and Palm 2 could survive by adapting and perhaps becoming something of a coffee shop / cafe as well as a delicatessan like its organic arm across the pond.


Dave, well balanced argument. I do think you could have discussed more fully why Tesco seems to provoke this reaction in many people? Perhaps it is something to do with it having reached something of an unchallengeable position, above local authority or even central government . The Guardian certainly got its fingers burnt when it dared to have a closer look.
One has to ask where it is all leading to, and indeed why they are moving into Clapton. Convenience can't be the reason (there being lots of convenience stores here already) and the quality of the basics mentioned by "andy" will not be any different. So it can only be their price advantage they are using (by whatever means that is obtained, whether by extracting every last drop of profit out of farmers or suppliers throughout the world, or by using huge container trucks as part of their store parked outside on red routes) or the "free cash machine" I am very cynical about their motives. Certainly it is nothing to do with giving customers "what they want"

Jane Smith

" .... can see advantages in having a Tesco Express on their doorsteps. Why? Convenience, quality, low prices - the very reasons why Tesco has become the business phenomenon that it is."

The big Tesco supermarkets might have low prices but the Tesco Express branches most certainly don't. Canny shoppers on the Kingsland Road are returning to local shops, realising that Tesco Express is often much more expensive to shop in.

David White

"Jane" (4th June comment) is absolutely right - Tesco Express prices are on average much higher than supermarket prices, no matter what Tesco public relations office would have you believe.
I avoid them like the plaque for that very reason - I've been bitten more than once and have finally learned my lesson.
The main reason prices are higher is simply that their overheads are higher compared to supermarkets - higher rents per square foot and less shelf space. It's also the reason prices vary from one Tesco Express to the next. They do have loss leaders of course, but unless you purchase only those staples or Tesco's cheapest yellow label products (if you can find more than one or two of the range in an Express you'll be lucky) you are likely to pay between 5% and 10% more at an Express than your local corner shop and between 10% and 15% more than the supermarket.
Cigarettes and tobacco at Express stores are up to 15% more expensive!
The other problem with small "Express' outlets is their range is invariable limited due to lack of shelf space so balance out the loss leaders with products that give them the greatest profit margin - so for example you end up with one type of real coffee, 75p more expensive that the Douwe Egberts available at every corner store.
Remember how long then Sainsbury Local lasted at the petrol station near Mt Pleasant Lane on Upper Clapton Road...


Look at Kingsland Road and Green Lanes how small shops can thrive despite the Tescos they must contend with. It's these varied and colourful shops that actually help to bring out the blandness of the Tesco in their midst.

Can you get the range of fruits, vegetables, spices not to mention the faces and accents in Tesco or the other Expresses? Look at Fresh and Fruity in Stamford Hill. The largest Tesco or Asda doesn't have anything like their range not to mention their prices.

So let Tesco come and stew in their own juice. The Brits may have succumbed to them but the Poles/Turks/Greeks and all the other nationalities round here are made of sterner stuff.

Paul Dawe

Why does it always have to come down to racism?? Its nothing to do with 'Brits' allowing large chains to walk all over us its about having freedom of choice... I come from Devon, full of small villages and in nearly every village there is some form of supermarket chain and the small shops still survive in harmony with these chains and have done for at least 15 years! I think the point everybody has to look at here is that the Tesco Express in Clapton WILL come... It will bring jobs to people who need them... It will bring a new choice to the area, and if the prices are indeed higher than other shops in the area then people will learn very quickly. Take milk as an example... In Tesco supermarkets its 2 for £3 or £1.56 each... I go to the shop half way down Millfields Road and pay £1.30 each... Its about learning where the deals are... I welcome Tesco's because it will bring much needed Jobs to the area and if people are too stupid to make an informed choice thats their problem.

Zoe B

where were you all when the magnificent regal records went bust on Lower Clapton Road? Buying cheap Bob Marley CDs on Amazon or at Tescos(admit it. you do)Tesco? So what? Another food shop.Who sells food is irrelevant and racist. It should be affordable and the consmer can choose. Free range eggs much ceaoer at the Clapton passage supermarket than anywhere. But shops that define Lower Clapton ,like Regal Records? Where is your soul?


Can someone tell me where on lower Clapton road you can get decent organic meat and GENUINELY fresh fruit and veg (that hasn't been lying around for days)for a decent price. The quality and freshness of such items in the current local businesses is questionable. I work long hours and often dont get a chance to do a decent weeks shop. having the convenience of a Tesco on my doorstep is fantastic. I'm pretty sure the people who are opposing the Tesco will be the first to use the cashpoint and second to buy their crispy fresh salads. I've lived in Clapton for 6 years now and I think this is the best thing that's happened for all the residents.

Pierre L

My campaign against Tesco in Clapton: I took a quite active role in this campaign for a while, speaking at the first planning committee meeting. What did I learn from it? That there apparently wasn't much the council could do, had it even wanted to, to prevent this shop from opening, as this was mostly a private matter between a housing association and Tesco. I therefore chose the only route which was open to us: object against the main application (allowring deliveries). I did so on the grounds of public safety given that these will be taking place at a bus stop and on a red route. I failed. We failed. I still believe that, had the opposition to the plan been greater, the planning committee wouldn't have created a precedent in lifting delivery restrictions to these premises, thus creating a precedent for many other shops throughout the borough. In the end, we will have an umpteenth Tesco shop opening before yet another one appears on Kingsland Rd: that will make 5 shops between Hoxton and Stamford Hill. What ever happened to the diversity Hackney's mayor wrote about in their manifesto?
Thanks for voicing a diversity of opinions.


What about the environmental considerations? Ovens to heat "fresh" bakery goods, fridges to cool the salads freezers to freeze the pizzas, electricity to constantly open & close the doors, power the strip lights, all the tills, I am aware that small retailers have similar to a lesser degree but as a housing association tenant myself, I would no more allow my children to sleep above a Tescos than I would stick a mobile phone mast on the roof. I think social housing should be just that, they should consider the health & environment of low income families and put that above grants and corporate bullies.

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