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Saturday 25 April 2009

Supermarket Sweep

Going back five years, Crewe had rather less in the way of supermarkets than it does today, but even so, there was no clamour for more choice or more outlets. Neither did the population have any obvious problem accessing one or other of the stores.

This state of affairs, however, was clearly not a satisfactory one for more than one of the big players. There was no Tesco outlet, and the nearest Sainsbury’s was on the edge of Nantwich, a whole three miles from central Crewe. Things would inevitably change, and the process started in earnest with Morrison’s takeover of Safeway.

The Crewe Safeway soon closed, and then reopened as a 24 hour Tesco. Since then, two smaller Tesco outlets have opened on Nantwich Road. Sainsbury’s have moved into the former Kwik Save on Edleston Road, and now want to open another store in town. But the most blatant new proposal is from discounter Aldi, who want to bulldoze The Earl, a roadhouse pub on Nantwich Road, to enable them to build a second Crewe outlet, which would coincidentally be opposite a Co-op of roughly the same size.

All this is excused by the deployment of the C-word – as in Choice. And it’s another dose of industrial strength drivel.

If the next proposal were to come from Lidl or Netto – or any other retailer without a presence in the area – then that would indeed bring choice. But another Sainsbury’s, Aldi or Tesco does not bring more choice: it merely heralds an attempt to gain territory and squeeze smaller competitors.

It is against this backdrop that independent stores and street markets – Crewe does market days Friday, Saturday and Monday – have to try and keep their heads above water.

So it’s a town rather like any other in the UK in that respect.

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