Tesco comes to Brockley

Be careful what you wish for...

In the early days of Brockley Central, motivated by disdain for Costcutter and inspired by the example of Forest Hill's Sainsbury, we wrote that one of the things Brockley could do with was a proper supermarket.

Well now, Brockley Central's intrepid investigator, John Morgan, reports that Tesco have acquired a site on Lewisham Way.

He says:

"213-223 Lewisham Way is one block on from the Albertine pub (on the left). It's a corner property and used to be a furniture store styled "Mondital". It's been empty for quite a while, and there have been attempts to site a restaurant there, but with some oposition from tenants above. Tesco is to take 80% of the site, leaving the remainder to a worthy entrepeneur. "

On the plus side, this will provide a welcome alternative for many in Brockley to the hapless Costcutter and the pedestrian-unfriendly Sainsbury at New Cross.

It's also far-enough away from Brockley Station that it's unlikely to kill-off the renaissance that the more optimistic amongst us believe is heralded by the development of new local retail units (eg: The Tea Factory).

On the down-side it's Tesco, which for many represents the march of rampant commercialism in to Brockley, which has remained largely untouched (if you don't count Costcutter and Whetherspoons) until now.

It is believed that work will begin on site shortly.

Thanks to John, who now writes a blog of his own:


Sue Luxton said...

Nick, what's with the regular downer on Costcutter?! When I went there the other week, ostensibly to buy a magazine, I ended up leaving with 2 bottles of organic wine, organic tofu, nut cutlets, spicy bean burgers, hummous, organic bread and some right-on magazines, ie pretty much most of the things I would buy in a Sainsbury/TESCO if I hadn't already vowed to avoid them like the plague. What is it that Costcutter don't sell that you would like them to? Have you asked them to stock these items? Some fresh fruit and veg wouldn't go amiss, but that's what a get a weekly box delivered for . . .

Maybe what Brockley needs is a friends and users of the shops group, like FUSS in Hither Green, which could for example do a survey of local people and find out what kind of things people want to buy. Any volunteers?!

TESCO schmeshko :(

Brockley Nick said...

Well, it's hard to remember the specific things that have frustrated me, when I've been there, but they have been many and I have always gone in with low expectations.

Off the top of my head, they would include a lack of choice / availability and quality in the following categories - bread, cheese, fruit, vegetables, wine, yoghurts, pastas, pre-prepared meals, frozen peas, chocolate, cider. I would also cite the long queues which form when more than five people occupy the shop at the same time. Combine that with the relatively high price of many items (excepting when they have special offers on certain items)and you have my recipe for a sub-standard retail experience.

I think the shop-user group sounds interesting, but to be honest, I expect a good shop to work out what people want, without us having to go to all that trouble - it's one of the key jobs of a retailer, no?

However, they have come to the rescue on a number of occasions and I will try to be more forgiving of them in future, but equally, I don't understand why you think Costcutter is any more acceptable (ethically speaking) than Tesco Metro - they're both 'big business', it's just that the latter seems better at it.

deekers said...

Nick, sounds like Tesco Metro will be right up your alley. That Mondital place looks big enough to allow for a decent bread-cheese-wine selection, & tesco's market research function is a big part of its business. Bet the new store will also come with a cashpoint or two. (I have to admit, i'm looking forward to a decent veg selection.. But I imagine that the other corner shops around there will soon disappear - one or two are really good, so this is a sad day).

I might be totally wrong on this, and would welcome clarification - but isn't the difference between costcutter and tesco that the former is a franchise business - ie, basically an independent retailer that leases costcutter branding and adheres to its policies as far as what it stocks? (& evidently doesn't include effective market research support). As opposed to tesco which is 100% top-down, managed centrally from corporate HQ? In the franchise case, the profits (beyond the franchising fee) go back to the franchisee, & give incentive for a better service; in the latter, they go right back into the corporate coffers and the staff are all salaried. [Or is your point that there is no material or ethical difference between these two business models?]

Brockley Nick said...

Hi Deekers, thanks for your post, I suspect you're right about Costcutters operating a franchise system - but then so does McDonald's and I suspect Sue's no fan of them either. So no, I don't see there's any material difference. I don't understand why, ethically, it's preferable that a large chunk of profits go back to a single frahcisee, rather than to Tesco shareholders, given that most of those shares will be held by pension funds, etc.

If the franchise model is better at incentivising shop owners to provide a better service, then that's not in evidence on Brockley Road. I certainly don't believe that Costcutter "gives anything back" to the local community, particularly as it is very shabbily maintained, to the detriment of the high street.

I do worry about the threat to local businesses (and I have tried to provide an opportunity for readers to highlight good local shops and restaurants) but I don't believe that supermarket chains are incompatible with vibrant highstreets, particularly in London.

The experience in Forest Hill is probably the best local precedent.

Jon said...

Well, I must share my thoughts on this being a resident who lives close to Lewisham Way and one who will almost certainly use the new Tesco regularly.

I, like most of you, have mixed emotions on Tesco moving in. I have been eying up that shop for months, secretly hoping for a nice restaurant, a deli, or if we must get a chain then an M&S, Sainsburys or Budgens (my examples of these being new developments at Blackheath Standard, Forest Hill & Crystal Palace respectively).

So, we get Tesco. It seems greedy, as they already have the garage further down the road, but we all know what they're like - should have seen it coming. So it's not quite M&S, but they do stock some good quality produce, like fresh granary breads which you can't get along Lewisham Way, and of course they keep the prices down.

I fear for the local stores, the Chinese-run Supermarket being the best by miles. It would of course be dreadful to get one new multinational chain open up shop, and have another independent one close.

But with some thought, hopefully the local shops can find the right balancing act to complement Tesco. The store will bring many more shoppers to that stretch of the road. The existing shops need to think about their stock and give us everything Tesco doesn't. The Chinese Supermarket already do a good job at this, by providing some more niche vegetables, and a good range of Eastern-European produce.

I have no doubt that there will be some protest locally about Tesco coming. But I think it will give a much needed boost to a run-down stretch of Lewisham Way. If us locals shop sensibly, and don't forget the smaller stores, it can be a success all round.

Kate said...

As Jon says, there is already a Tesco further down Lewisham Way, so I can't see the logic in them opening on this site; how big is it, can anyone tell me? Is it big enough for a full scale Tesco store or will it be one of their corner shop-esque efforts, like the one they've got further down the road?
From the times I've been into that one, I'd say it's way worse than the Costcutter. It doesn't even sell booze! The Costcutter has an incredible wine selection (yes it's not as cheap as the New X Sainsburys but then that's hardly surprising as it lacks Sainsburys' buying power; I'm willing to pay an extra quid for the convenience anyway). The fruit and veg is my only complaint, other than that I think for a local/corner shop it's damn good. And the counter staff are always nice.

Brockley Nick said...

Just want to make clear, I'm not championing Tesco! I'd rather a Sainsbury, M&S, Waitrose or a really good "locally-run" option.

However, I don't think the garage-Tesco is a fair comparison - it's no more than a corner shop. I understand that the site is fairly big - so it will be a decent-sized Tesco Metro, I'd guess. It's nowhere near big enough for a full scale Tesco, fortunately.

As Jon says, it will only put other shops out of business if we choose not to shop in them any more. Some may go - but hopefully they will be the rubbish ones, while the good ones will survive and even prosper thanks to the extra footfall and the fact that people might choose to shop locally more often than they do at the moment.

Anyway, I'm glad to hear people cherish the Costcutter - I doubt its future is threatened, since there's a fair distance between them.

lee newham said...

I dont have a problem with Tesco coming to Brockley, even though I'm not a fan of them (I design a lot of thier packaging). I do like the costcutter (the chinese run shop, not Spar/premier which is awful) but their fruit and veg is rather poor. I have more of a problem with the abundance of cheap, nasty looking fast food chains in the area. We need more Meze Mangals, a pub that sells decent food, even a gastro pub, and decent restaurants like Cinnamon in the Parade.

Jon Paul Morgan said...

Sue fails to say that she was also probably left with an increased shopping bill. The style "Costcutter" is a mockery at best and a deception at worst.
(I can't comment on the Organic wine Sue as I loathe it!)

I agree with Nick, a good business should work out what people want - or it shouldn't go into business in the first place.

Deekers makes the point that the busines is 'managed centrally from corporate HQ?' But why should a question mark follow an adherance to quality and control? He also says that the profits (beyond the franchising fee) go back to the franchisee, and give incentive for a better service. But does it? He fails to acknowledge that Tesco's profit may go back into the 'corporate coffers', and the staff are all salaried', but, again, so what?. (The staff are salaried at Costcutter too. It's ethnic makeup falls far short of a 'corporation' intent on profit in a mixed community.) And, if I may, what need is there for comment on the material and ethical difference between two business models when each is designed soley for profit? (Or is Costcutter solely there for the community?)

Jon has been secretly hoping for a nice restaurant, a deli, or an M&S, as if hope alone will bring these to Brockley. (Incidentally, tesco is not taking up all the site and a 20% slither remains. So find a deli Jon!) I agree with him about attracting one of the upmarket supermarkets like M&S, because if I spend more than £6 on a bottle of wine I want it to taste like that. I also like food that is not hydrogenated and M&S has the lead on this, and on quality. (If it's price don't suit you shop elsewhere.)

The Chinese-run store is very useful and I use it a lot myself. There is no reason why it shouldn't adapt to the competition.
Kate's happy to spend over the odds anyway, so it will continue to have her custom.

Can't disagree with Lee about those fast-food chains. Is there no joined up thinking at Lewisham Council?

Whatever happens, we need a zebra crossing to unite the south side of Lewisham Way with its north side. In order to have a vibrant shopping area people have to be able to access it, the pelican crossing is not effective for this.

Well, if Tesco does come it's Sainsbury's that going to lose my wine order when I next stock up. And if M&S comes Tesco in turn will lose out... but then I'm a supermarket dolly and a mortgage rate tart.

Hugh said...

Haven't read any of the above but will opine anyway:

1. Tesco means civilisation. Costcutter means bandit country. So we want Tesco.

2. It will take more than a Tesco to change the shabbiness of Lewisham Way, but it's a start.

3. Can we please have a Sainsbury's?

Sue Luxton said...

just attempted to post a long response, but it seems to have disappeared, will retype it later, when I have time. Just taken a look on the planning website, and the only planning application I can find for 213-223 Lewisham Way is from November last year, to change it to A3 use(ie restaurant). Something else may have been submitted recently and just not uploaded yet though.


Sue Luxton said...

We probably won't agree on Costcutter, though I agree there is definite room for improvement. Worth pointing out to other readers that we were discussing Costcutters on Brockley Road, not the one on Lewisham Way, and I don't use the one on Lewisham Way, but am told it's not as good as the one on Brockley Road.

Brockley Road Costcutter has a good range of chocolate and wine (surely life's essentials?!) but is lacking on the recycled toilet roll front and fresh fruit and veg. Not sure how many types of frozen peas I want to have to choose between - organic/local/non-organic? Isn't life complicated enough already?!

Lewisham Way clearly has a need for more and better food shops, let's wait and see what, if anything, is being proposed.

My main concern with TESCO is that it controls 30% of the UK grocery market and I'm not convinced it is healthy for the market or conducive to fair trade. Could say more, but http://www.tescopoly.org/ sums it up pretty well.

Re takeaways: agree, but Lewisham Council can only act within the nationally permitted guidelines, so not entirely to blame for this. There may be room for tightening things up a bit in the new local development framework, but I'm not sure. It's another reason why we need the Sustainable Communities Bill to become law asap. http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/local_works_steering.aspx

Finally Lee - could you persuade TESCO to get you to design a lot less packaging for them?!

lee newham said...

Unfortumately we don't have much say as designers regarding the amount of packaging and most of it is used to stop the food being damaged in transit while also being quite cheap. They actually use a lot less packaging than M&S who are someof the worst offenders. IF you are worried about over packaging the consumers has more power than they realize. Write to supermarkets (You may believe me, but they are very worried about what consumers thing, I have worked for most of them at one time or another) or you can write to trading standards, they have the ability under EU lay to prosecute if a supermarket overpackages something.

Regarding the Tesco, they often submit an appliction under somethign other than a supermarket, buy the site then resubmit the planning application, it's something they do that is legal but a bit...naughty. It's partly to stop other supermarkets buying prime sites.

What about the shop opposite the old Station down lewisham way (the old station is now a secondhand/reclamaton yard) its derelict and would make a fine deli.

Kate said...

Yes, I was talking about the Brockley Rd Costcutter.
Anyway, I'd definitely prefer a Waitrose to a Tesco. What are the chances, though?!

ElijahBailey said...

Hmm at least it is on Lewisham Way though. I mean it is still bad, but there are far more devestating places for a Tescos to open up.

It take it it will be openeing it that old Italian furniture shop? I thought that might be bought by some one big. It is the perfect size from there point of view.

Anonymous said...

I didnt realize Lewisham Way was even officially part of Brockley however I will give my two pence worth nonetheless... I dont really want Tesco or Costcutter on the towns main high street so they are welcome to Lewisham Way which is slightly more peripheral. The high street needs an M&S or Waitrose as yes, we are a posh lot us Brockers (or think we are anyway). In fact even a decent Spar/Budgens with a fresh deli serving hot food as well as cold meat etc would satisfy me. They are usually small but bright and well maintained. I hate the sight of Costcutters tacky shop fronts with screened out windows...are their staff illergic to sunlight or something? Whose knows, maybe some day Brockley will resemble Blackheath with some nice pubs, restaurants and micro breweries, a splash of high street chains for good measure... Until then we will have to settle for fried chicken and hair shops...

Brockley Nick said...

Lewisham Way represents the northern boundary of Brockley.

Jon said...

Wow, tell it how it is Anonymous! I agree we could use a little more of Blackheath, but personally I think Brockley has a scene all of it's own! And the beauty that is to be found much deeper than the grotty shopfronts of Costcutter and the like.

As far as boundaries go, who cares? - anywhere that I can reasonably walk to, I count as my patch!

Luke said...

Forgive my ignorance...where's the Chinese-run Supermarket?

Jon said...

Well, it is not massively Chinese in the products it carries, but it is seemingly run by a Chinese family. It's a big one by the bus stop and directly opposite the end of Manor Avenue, with an red/orange sign that just says "SUPERMARKET".

anna said...

we need a BAR, not more food

Martin said...

I notice the Chinese-run store, or "Red Shop" as we rather casually refer to it in this household, now has a hand-written sign up in its window saying that Tesco are planning to open up next-door and asking customers to sign their petition against such plans. So much for living in harmony and filling each other's niches (so to speak)...

leenewham said...

Yes, a Tesco Express is coming to Lewisham way (I have have seen the drawings). The Chinese run supermarket is running a petition to stop it. It wont do any good.

As mentioned before, the Chinese supermarket, which I really like can compete if it differentiates itself. People like it, it's local and the people in it are friendly (I don't know how the Costcutter in Lewisham way survives, its always empty and not very friendly).

It needs to sell things that TESCO doesn't sell, like more ethical produce, perhaps local produce (anyone in the area make jam or sell vegetables from their allotments want to approach them). They should find out what people want to buy from their shop, what they want to see in THEIR local. TESCO can't compete with that, they can't change quickly, they are told what they have to sell. In reality there isn't any reason why the two cant compete, within a few hundred metres there is already a Gogi's (awful & rude), a costcutter, Supercuts, another costcutter, a corner shop on the Parade (really nice and friendly), another small store near Albertines, not to mention down in Lewisham, the Sainsbury's, Tesco, M&S, the Tesco further down Lewisham way, the Sainsbury's in New Cross, Iceland etc...there is enough competition already and yet they still survive.

Protesting wont do anything, beating TESCO at their own game will. When small businesses realise how they can be better than a big chain like TESCO our highstreets will survive. People love independent shops if they are good. It's NOT just the fault of the large Supermarkets.

Although obviously TESCO has some rather lovely award winning packaging :-), I will still use the other shops, but I will probably go to Sainsbury's in New Cross less.

Brockley Nick said...

There was an interesting article recently about how Waitrose actually poses a bigger threat to high streets than Tesco, as Waitrose competes with delis / niche produce shops, whereas Tesco is competing with the Costcutters of this world.


Anonymous said...

i'd just like to jump in and defend gogi's from the comment above ('awful&rude')... since moving to lewisham way 8 months ago i have founf the guys in there really friendly and nice, especially the owner.

i also have mixed feelings about tesco. in principle i am against, and signed the petition, however as someone who recently bought a flat nearby i'm not against a bit of regeneration in the area...

leenewham said...

There are actualy two gogis. The gogis I presulme we are all talking about is actually the premier store (the other gogis is opposite the rather didgy looking carpet and furniture shops and is..er..awful and very rude.

The premier 'gogi's is under new management and the owner is actualy a really nice guy. He hasn't done himslef any favous by keeping the name 'gogis' or by keeping the new management bit a secret!

But if you haven't been in there since last September, please do, it's a different store and owner. And friendly.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Tesco might raise the bar with some of these eyesore shops; which are in dire need of a makeover.
How much money does it take to wash an awning?



At F&Tesco the vino callapso has increased in line with inflation, so avoid like the plague on a vine leaf!

Used to get some great offers there but 'at's all changed now its nearly put the store alongside out of bloody business and since yer bleedin' yuppies have moved in... convertin' flats to 'ouses and pushin' up the price of vino. 'Waiter, this wine is corked!' I mean, what's all that about, eh!?

Mind you, whatever you do, don't buy the Sainsbury's Baron de Belmotte (Syrah) 2006. Made from a blend of traditional grapes, supposed to be superb value at £5 a litre, which it is - for bloody vinegar!

Nah mate! So... rather than schlep all the way up to Mr Lawrence - Guantanimo if ever - make yourself a cuppa instead. At least the flavour floods out.

Anonymous said...

Oops! Meant to post that here. Thanks Joe Brockers, I'll take that advice.

Ped Antic said...

When wine is corked it's off, you moron!

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