‘Supermarket-gate’ will now be resolved in the High Court after breach of contract claim lodged

Whittlesey 'supermarket-gate'

Whittlesey 'supermarket-gate' - Credit: Archant

It was dubbed ‘supermarket-gate’ and ended in failure after Sainsbury’s pulled out at the last moment.

But now the store faces a multi million pound breach of contract claim after they abandoned their bid for a new store at Whittlesey.

Papers alleging breach of contact were lodged in the High Court this week.

It means the supermarket giant – that recently reported a 9 per cent fall in profit for the first half of its financial year – must justify its decision to pull out of the Fenland deal.

Lawyers for Whitacre Management – the March based company owned by Bruce Smith – have spent the past year preparing their case for the High Court.


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Mr Smith confirmed the claim was officially presented to the court this week and the store would have a limited period in which to respond.

“Sainsbury’s terminated the contract having had all the support from the people of Whittlesey,” he said.

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The legal action is intended to force Sainsbury’s to complete the purchase of a site for a new store at Whittlesey – and an adjoining 60 acres for a country park.

Mr Smith is confident Sainsbury’s are in breach of contract after Fenland District Council worked laboriously to ensure the project finally secured permission within the time scale insisted upon.

“This has never been about me and the vagaries of commercial life,” said Mr Smith. “It has been about letting people down who supported me for many years and trusted me to deliver both the supermarket and the country park.

“I had to pursue the case for that reason – I could not walk away.”

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