Co-operative Society digs in for a fight to stop Sainsbury or Tesco moving into Whittlesey

JUST 18 months after investing �150,000 into their Whittlesey store, Co-operative bosses have launched a bid to stop Sainsbury or Tesco muscling into their territory.

They have lodged objections against recent announcements of bids by Tesco and Sainsbury to build supermarkets on adjoining Eastrea Road sites.

The Co-op says they have serious concerns about the negative impact the development will have upon existing businesses within Whittlesey town centre.

Richard Waddington, regional operations manager for The Co-operative said: “If both applications are accepted, the cumulative annual turnover is likely to be around �56 million, a huge figure that would be at the expense of town centre stores.

“These stores, if given the go ahead, would seriously threaten the future of our town centre store, which plays a key role generating footfall and underpinning Whittlesey’s other town centre shops. Shoppers will be less likely to visit the town centre at all if they can do their shopping at an out-of-town supermarket.

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“We are proud of the role The Co-operative plays within the local community. For example, our Community Fund, using money generated by our customer members who shop with us, supports local groups and charities.

“There are too many examples of town centres that have suffered from out-of-centre developments already, and we don’t want to see Whittlesey become another one.”

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The Co-op completed an upgrade of stores in Fenland after buying the Somerfield supermarket chain in a �1.56 billion acquisition in 2009.

It was nearly involved in an early supermarket war after Tesco launched a bid to build a store just down the road in Syers Lane.

But the bid was thrown out by Fenland District Council after the Co-op objected to plans which residents said would “destroy the heart of the town”.

Tesco had wanted to tear down 13 two-bedroom houses to make way for the store.

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