The manager of a family-run Sheffield shop which could be forced to make way for a new Sainsbury’s has warned that supermarkets want to ‘take over’ the city.
Williamson Hardware, which has been trading in Broomhill for more than 50 years, may have to vacate its Fulwood Road premises after planners gave the go-ahead to controversial renovation work that will push up the building’s rent.
More than 140 locals have lodged objections to the plans, which staff at the popular shop say are designed to edge them out in favour of a new Sainsbury’s convenience store.
The protests form the latest in a string of recent campaigns against new chain food stores in Sheffield, sparking calls from a local business group for councillors to ‘take a stand’ against supermarkets.
Martin Greaves, shop manager at Williamson Hardware, said: “We’re still in negotiations with the landlord but it looks as though we might have to move.
“We have had lots of support from the local community. They will be very disappointed if we have to move. We would have to downsize so we wouldn’t be able to offer as much.”
He added: “It is a problem across the city and across the country. Supermarkets want to take over. They want to take over the high street.”
More than 3,000 people have signed a petition against another store – the proposed redevelopment of a garage in Parkhead into a Tesco Express – which councillors are set to rule on early next month.
Steve Carroll, co-owner of the nearby Red convenience store on Ecclesall Road South, said his business would struggle to survive if Tesco gets the green light.
“We would certainly have a hard time,” he said.
“It is completely inappropriate for the site. There were plans for some flats on the site that nobody had a problem with.
“People are concerned about the way Tesco go about their business, investing until other shops have been driven out.
“There are already seven Tesco stores within a short radius so a lot of people have been asking why we need another one.”
Mr Carroll, whose shop is also the base for Parkhead post office, said supermarkets meant less choice and higher prices for consumers.
He said: “Look at petrol stations. When supermarkets started doing petrol everyone said it was a great thing for competition. What’s actually happened in the long term is that all the independent stations have shut and prices have never been higher.”
Chris Beech, who runs a butcher’s shop on South Road, Walkley, said the nearby Asda store had damaged local businesses since opening last year.
“When it opened, my shop was inside a sort of convenience store that then went out of business and left me with three empty units,” he said. “Convenience stores just don’t stand a chance.
“We have far too many supermarkets.”
Andrew Flower, chairman of the Sheffield branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, urged councillors to stand up to big chains which, he said, made deals with councils’ planning committees to win approval.
He said: “Councils need to take a stand. They need to stop looking only at what these places can give to them but look also at what they take away from the city.
“Everyone says that supermarkets are creating jobs but in reality they are taking jobs away.
“They are doing it by backhanders – not illegal backhanders, of course – but by saying they’ll build a bus stop here or a road there so that the council gives them permission.
“It’s unfair because small businesses can’t do that.”