Shopkeepers in crisis after new Tesco opens

ANGRY shopkeepers say business has plummeted since a new Tesco opened - despite 10,000 people protesting against it.

Neighbouring traders say their worst fears have come true and customers are increasingly deserting them for the supermarket giant's Express store on Abbeydale Road, at the junction with Broadfield Road.

The shop, launched in April, was the chain's third on Abbeydale Road and seventh in the south of the city.

The company now has 14 sites in Sheffield, and has permission for another - its fifteenth - at Spital Hill.

The surrounding area also boasts a Lidl, which opened on Chesterfield Road in July, plus Sainsbury's, Aldi, Waitrose and Morrison's stores, all within one-and-a-half miles of the new Tesco.

There are also smaller supermarkets, including another Sainsbury's in Nether Edge, Somerfield, on Chesterfield Road, and Co-ops in Heeley and Norton Lees.

Nether Edge newsagent Mr Ahmed, aged 48, said business plunged 50 per cent after the Broadfield Tesco opened.

The dad-of-five managed to claw back some customers by opening longer, opening at lunchtime, selling discount products and employing family as "cheap labour".

He said: "I'm surviving, my regular customers are supporting me, but I've lost a lot of passing trade. I now do a 13-hour day, every day."

Basharat Rehman, aged 33, of Rehman Brothers supermarket, Abbeydale Road, said business was down 25 per cent, forcing him to axe one of his four staff.

He added: "I can't believe the council put 10,000 signatures against the development to one side.

"I don't think they are bothered whether we survive.

"They have done nothing to help small businesses."

Sheffield Council leader Coun Paul Scriven said planning board councillors were tied by Government guidelines leaving them unable to take competition into account, but that he thought the policy needed to be reconsidered.

He added: "Where an application does cause a planning issue, we can do something.

"For example, the campaign against a Tesco on Commonside, Crookesmoor, was successful, as the development was turned down due to traffic issues.

"We have been doing a whole range of things to help small businesses, including launching a 'buy local' policy.

"Since the Lib Dems took control of the council, we have increased the proportion of the council's spending on businesses with an S postcode from around 28 per cent to 76 per cent.

"We will continue to look at what else we can do to help."

Council policy encourages new stores in areas designated 'local shopping centres', like Abbeydale Road.

But the authority can only decide on the location, not the operator, Coun Scriven said.

Tesco was unavailable for comment.

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