Tesco losses – what implications for East Devon?

Tesco has announced its biggest annual loss ever – £6 billion, partly due to over-valuing their stores, reducing expansions and plugging a massive black hole in its pension fund.

For many years Tesco was EDDC’s darling – especially when it bought the entire Seaton regeneration site, with its promise of affordable housing (none), leisure facilities (none) and a hotel (none).  They did, however, ensure that, with its size, no other supermarket chain would bother to try to open in the town.

In Axminster the company applied for planning permission to extend its edge-of-town store.  This did not happen but again effectively blocked other supermarkets (including Aldi and Lidl) as Tesco could say there was more than enough trading space for the town.

In Honiton, they bought the industrial estate and attempted to relocate to a proposed mega-store again on the edge of the town.  EDDC fought this one (with its Honiton-centric Cabinet mindful of their electorate) but had that gone ahead then it is doubtful if Lidl AND Aldi would have thought it worth building their stores.  It’s large edge-of-town store has since bedn enlarged.

Edge-of-town superstores drain the life out of high streets and our independent shops and have now been shown to be a defective model.  Tesco has shown us that, indeed, the Emperor didn’t have any clothes – as many people suspected.  And some towns, where Tesco is dominant and based on the edges of the towns, have a failing white elephant on their doorsteps and not much else – and no chance of much else.

Perhaps some of their under-used space could now be released to communities for much-needed facilities such as playgroups or  youth clubs or senior citizens clubs … just a thought.  We don’t all have a (capital subsidised) Beehive and (subsidised and loss-making) Thelma Hulbert Gallery!