Store wars – supermarkets do battle in Sunderland

Views of the new Tesco at Monkwearmouth (due to open summer 2013).
Views of the new Tesco at Monkwearmouth (due to open summer 2013).
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WITH new big-name stores opening across Wearside, shoppers are being given more choice when it comes to filling their kitchen cupboards.

And with three new branches in the pipeline in coming months, the competition is likely to get even hotter.

But concerns have been voiced by independent Sunderland retailers, who fear the big names will put them out of business.

And some supermarket chains themselves have become involved in a war of words over whether there is enough custom to go around.

Sainsbury’s in Wessington Way opened in March and Tesco at Sunderland Retail Park is due to open in June.

Plans for an Aldi at Carley Hill have been deferred while Sunderland Council considers a report into the impact it will have on retail in the area.

The same firm plans to open a store in Hall Farm, near to the existing Morrisons store, with residents raising concerns about the traffic issues they believe it could cause.

Proposals for a Tesco at the Peel Centre in Washington have also sparked a war of words.

The company behind it has warned that refusal could lead to the loss of hundreds of jobs and an expensive legal battle – which could cost Wearside taxpayers – with the Galleries claiming the new store could put its shops at risk and damage the heart of the town.

The Government, rather than the council, will decide this summer on whether the store will get the go ahead after the developer launched an appeal to see it make the call on the plan,

The latest store openings and those in the pipeline will mean Sunderland as a whole will have around a dozen supermarkets.

Last month figures showed Sainsbury’s were ahead of Tesco in the sales stakes, and reported a 6.3 per cent increase in one week.

And BrandIndex, which tracks consumer views of value, reported Sainsbury’s value score was 25.6, while Tesco lagged behind at 11.9 per cent.

Chris Stevens, store manager at the new Sainsbury’s shop, said the company are delighted with the supermarkets performance since opening, and enjoy the rivalry from the big three competitors.

“It gives consumers a choice, and they can then decide where they want to shop,” he said. “What’s great now is that the people of Sunderland shop in Sunderland, and the increase in footfall benefits other retailers.”

Work is continuing on Tesco’s new store in Roker Avenue, ahead of its launch.

The company aim to boost sales, having launched a promotion, which compares prices at the till and offers customers coupons if their shopping would have been cheaper elsewhere.

A spokesman for Tesco said: “Our newly launched Price Promise is proving very popular and we’re sure it will go down well at our new store.

“We’re really pleased to be bringing forward this multimillion pound investment for the local area and for local shoppers.

“We’re confident our new store will prove a real hit and provide the range, quality and great service that our customers expect.”

A spokeswoman for Asda, which has stores in Boldon, Leechmere, Pennywell, Seaham and Peterlee, said the company is not concerned by Wearside’s increasing supermarket trade.

“We believe when it comes to competition, the real winners are customers,” she said.

“So we welcome the arrival of Sainsbury’s and Tesco.”

A spokesperson for Morrisons, which has stores in Seaburn, Castletown and Doxford Park, said a refurbishment to the Seaburn store will keep customers from shopping elsewhere.

He said: “Our customers have given us fantastic feedback since we refurbished our store in Seaburn in October, and we’re confident we’ve got the right offering for the area.”