Could Asda be poised to take over ‘mothballed’ Tesco store at Chatteris? Just as first rates bill is popped into the letterbox?

Could Asda 'rescue' Tesco and take this store at Chatteris off their hands? Many now think deal is l

Could Asda 'rescue' Tesco and take this store at Chatteris off their hands? Many now think deal is likely - Credit: Archant

Asda is reported to be in talks to take over the mothballed Tesco store at Chatteris.

The takeover, if it goes ahead, would save Tesco from both the embarrassment of a vast, empty store but also mean not having to pick up a business rates bill that some estimate to be as high as £500,000 a year.

Tesco announced earlier this year that the £22million store in Chatteris was one of 49 to be axed under a cost-cutting programme. At the time it was reported to be paying £1million to the private equity firm that owns the store, off the A142 Fenland Way.

A planned scheme to open a store in Whittlesey was also scrapped.

In June it was revealed that Tesco must start paying business rates on its Chatteris store from this month – a move MP Steve Barclay said at the time he hoped would push the company to sublet it as quickly as possible.

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According to The Times yesterday, Asda – whose first half profits un the UK rose in the first six months of the year- are “in discussions over the lease” on the Chatteris superstore.

David Lewis, the chief executive of Tesco, decided to scrap the Chatteris store soon after being drafted in to revive the ailing store group’s business performance.

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The battle to ensure Tesco was responsible for business rates on the Chatteris store has been led by the NE Cambs MP and Fenland District Council.

They wrote to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) after it became clear Tesco were taking advantage of a technicality that meant they would not have to pay business rates on the building they had commissioned to be built.

Tesco argued the building was incomplete because it was not fitted out and was missing other items, including air conditioning.

However, a completion notice was later issued and the VOA issued a bill – although it is not known what rateable value has been put on the mothballed supermarket.

Tesco should have begun payments from July 1 but was given a three-month exemption period: that expired on October 1.

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