New Cross protest against big brands

“The New Cross Federation” is a local campaign group that opposes the opening of a new Sainsbury’s Local in New Cross, opposite Goldsmiths. They will be protesting on Thursday 20th October, outside Sainsbury’s Head Office, 33 Holborn, London EC1N 2HT 12-2pm. They say:

If you are worried about the destruction of small shops and the takeover of our communities by corporations, then please come and join us, and please sign the petition at

All the usual full disclosure is necessary before we proceed: Our employer, Edelman, does a small amount of work for Sainsbury’s, helping with the developing their annual CSR report. So you can discount whatever we have to say on the matter if you like – as you can discount what we have to say about pretty much anything.

We asked one of the campaign organisers, Chris Boddington, who owns Cafe Crema in New Cross, about a couple of the key assumptions behind the campaign.

The first of these is that the New Cross retail economy is a zero-sum game. According to this logic, the revenue that this Sainsbury’s makes must be generated by reduced revenues for other local businesses. We don’t think that’s true – we think New Cross currently does a pretty poor job of catering to local people’s shopping needs and there is a lot more money to be made locally. Chris said:

At a meeting in August with New Cross Federation members (local traders and councillors) Sainsbury’s management stated that the reason for opening a small store (a ‘Local’) in addition to the large store already operating in SE14, is to pick up the ‘top-up’ trade – i.e. shoppers who do their weekly shop at the big store, but who may need to top-up with a few items mid-week. This is exactly the trade that small, independent shops rely upon for their living.

They conveniently ignore the fact that in any community there is a finite amount of money that residents need to spend on groceries each week. A new shop opening does not mean that business will be drummed up out of thin air.

At least 50% of the shoppers in New Cross are students at Goldsmiths College. The new store will be opposite the main entrance of the college. In addition to groceries, it will sell ready-to-eat takeaway food, which will take trade away from the two cafes immediately adjacent to it, as well as the many other independent cafes and takeaway counters in the area. It will also sell alcohol, taking trade from off-licences.

The second assumption is that this will cause displacement, with existing shops forced out of the area. But this is a unit that has been empty for years. By opening, it might encourage more people to shop locally and more shops to set up nearby to capitalise on the extra footfall. Chris said:

It is true that it's a shame to have a shop standing empty for years, but it doesn’t follow that it’s better to put it to any use whatsoever. Large corporations are willing to pay much more in rent than small traders or other organisations are able to, so landlords will jump at the chance to have them as tenants. Once this becomes the trend in any given area, why would any landlord settle for poorer tenants?

I’d rather see one empty shop than that kind of corporate Stalinism, and I’d rather see the money I spend going into the pockets of local people rather than being hoovered up by distant millionaire shareholders and corporate directors.

The campaigners believe that this is bad news for local business and that the people of New Cross don’t want chain stores. Today’s news of a planned opening of a new independent food store just down the road and the quiver of local excitement about New Cross’ new TK Maxx suggest that neither of these propositions is necessarily true. Time will tell.


David said...

I think all stories on this subject matter should be written by someone else who doesn't have to declare a vested interest at the start of the article. Then we would know where we are with it

Anonymous said...

I love big bands

Brockley Nick said...

@David - the point about declaring a (tiny) vested interest is precisely that you do know where you stand. You can judge my and Chris' arguments on their merits. After all, Chris has a vested interest himself.

Even if someone else (you?) wrote the article, I would still need to declare the interest when publishing.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the loosing a little of these small cafe' living on students' low budgets would be a great loss for NX, or for students pockets. many of them serve very poor food which qualitywise doesn't differ that much from already cooked meals offered by Sainsbury...Off license are a good thing to preserve? C'mon there are more than enough in the area and they don't help the economy as most of the people working in them don't shop and go to pubs...

Michael Moore said...

Not this again, nick gives details and space for a local camaign, including a link to the site and time and locations for a protest. He gives the organisers the opportunity to expand their argument even if he doesn't agree or thinks there point is weak. He expresses an opinion then throws open the comments log to anyone.

That's a bad thing?

I'm 50/50 in the whole supermarket local debate but I didn't even know this protest group existed. I do now and now know where to go if I want to join.

The irony of those complaining about it appearing here is staggering.

Unless it's a dark reverse PR stunt....;-)

SamB said...

Why is the argument in this case always about how much it will take away from local businesses, and how local businesses will suffer from it?

How about thinking about what the customer wants for a change, and considering what the market actually wants. In this case, a sizeable part of the market is students. Students are generally known for wanting to shop cheaply and quickly - this aim is easily achieved by a Sainsbury's Local, far more so than a plethora of poor quality convenience stores.

The same argument happened further up Lewisham Way when the Tesco Express opened, and unfortunately that has resulted in the neighbouring convenience store going out of business. That's really sad, and I do feel for the owners, who were lovely people, but the fact is that the Tesco Express caters far better for the local market than any of the other shops in that strip do (or did). Which is why they've succeeded - they've given people what they actually want.

SE14 imposter said...

I have to say I generally agree with Nick on this. If New Cross was overflowing with great quality bakers, butchers, greengrocers etc then I might think differently. And just because a Sainsburys Local opens it doesn't mean we all suddenly lose our ability to choose where we shop - it isn't going to stop me going to the lovely Kismet. But there are other local outlets which I don't think are adding much to the area e.g. poor quality food that goes off overnight, or waiting an age for a cold cup of hot chocolate. Or others which are nice but aren't open at convenient times. I am more than happy to support local businesses, but I'm not going to do so regardless of quality - that does no-one any favours!

Anonymous said...

And actually there are still convineince stores within spitting distance. I'm no fan of SOME supermarket purchasing and marketing practices but all shops are competing for the money in our pockets. The idea that anyone shops out of a sense of duty to the owners is daft. Also, the idea that small independents are not competing against each other is naive. The alternative is that they have entered into a cartel to fix prices, which would at least be unethical and possibly illegal. I've no wish high streets to be clones but that's as much the responsibility of the independents to differentiate as it is for legislation to prevent unfair competition. Most convinience stores sell the same brands at similar prices, the choice thing is often a bit of a myth. A true independent, with a unique service level or offering can and do work.

Emma said...

Agree with previous post - if local independent owners raised their game they'd have far less to fear. I'm tired of these small shops whining when so much of their stock is of poor quality, poorly displayed and even out of date.

Brockley Nick said...

@Sam - I think it's legitimate to be concerned about local traders' livelihoods and certainly any major new competitor will probably give people sleepless nights. I don't think that's the only factor to consider though and I don't think it's right to see this only as a threat, rather than an opportunity.

Like Chris, I co-own a small business (in fact our businesses are both referenced in the same article that I linked to in the piece). However, in conversation with Chris on email, we had a clear difference of opinion. He talked about the right of small businesses to exist. I don't think any business (big or small) has the "right" to exist - any more than I have a "right" to my job. They have to work hard and find opportunities. My view is that this development creates as many opportunities as it does threats.

We discussed the example of Costcutter on Brockley Road. If it didn't exist as a place where I could buy general groceries, I would probably get in my car and drive to the supermarket instead of shopping locally. That means I'd pop in to Degustation or the Broca less often to buy other items. Everyone loses. High streets work best with a mix, in my view.

shop til ya drop said...

The prospect of TK Maxx in New Cross Gate is appetising because:

1. It's not a repetition of what's already there.
2. It will more than likely bring new people into the area and more frequently precisely because of the nature of what it sells, fast moving consumer goods; fashion. AND
3... It's on a retail park, so free parking which you don't get in Lewisham. It's not likely to be crushingly busy on a saturday as the Lewisham branch so you can peruse the goods more easily.

It's adding to New Cross. Whereas the Sainsbury's just seems to want to mop up easy cash from students who can't be asked to walk to its awkwardly located main store. It won't be bring value for money as TK Maxx does. These small stores are almost always more expensive because of their size. (Sainsbury's may do some loss leaders to attract people).

Tom said...

Apart from pulling out statistics about the local economy from thin air (70% of money leaving the area, 50% of shoppers being students) the bit that really annoys me about this opposition is the idea that we as consumers are unable to make a reasoned choice of where to shop. What's really Stalinist is the idea that they should have control over where I'm able to spend my money and dictating that I have to buy mouldy vegetables from these supposedly better independent shops. The shoppers of New Cross have a right to make the choice of whether or not they want a Sainsburys there. If they actually value independent shops they will spend their money there and sustain them. There are some reasonable arguments against the excessive power of supermarkets, but they aren't these ones.

Anonymous said...

It's alright to say that losing local cafes would be no great loss, but that's a very subjective middle class view about what constitutes "good" food.

I was a student at Goldsmiths myself a couple of years ago and I used to frequent the two cafes directly opposite the college on a fairly regular basis because I liked what they had to offer and the price was reasonable.

Not everyone wants NX to be a mass of London Particulars - though I recognise and appreciate what they have to offer too.

It's a question of balance, and the question is, would a Sainsbury's upset that balance? In my view, the answer's yes.

mp said...

because of the tas rise, from next year students will be rich people, most of them coming from abroad. they don't want local dirty greasyspoonlike cafes but proper good food or big chain!! ;)

ooo said...

Sainsburys will win this battle, they have way more resources at their disposal.

New Cross Federation don't waste time and effort fighting on this front.

Start thinking of ways that you can strengthen your position with students now!

What can you offer that Sainsbury's can't or won't?

Lou Baker said...

These 'campaigners' are complete berks.

New Cross is a shit hole. A dump to end all dumps. And a large part of that is down to the poor quality of the businesses and the environment.

TFL and Lewisham could help by sorting out the gyratory from hell and making it more pedestrian friendly.

Shop owners could help by making their establishments look clean, warm and inviting. But a duster and can of paint seem alien to most of these companies.

I welcome Sainsburys. It brings quality. It brings jobs. It brings choice. If you're a decent local business you will use this as a chance to grow. If you're not, you'll go under.

Some of us fight for ever improving standards and other believe in maintaining dross. I hope these insufferable nimbys lose their campaign of ignorance.

I heart cupcakes said...

I have lived in New Cross for 15 years and I thoroughly welcome any new business into the Area whether big chains like TK Maxx or small places like The Particular or the soon to open Allotment. The point is New Cross has been a mass of crappy expensive 'convenience' stores, off licenses, barbers/money transfer shops and the dreaded chicken shops for years and anything different is welcome.
The whole 'no more chain stores' campaign annoys me - mainly because half the posters are in barbers/Money Transfer Shops and state 'money spent here is money that stays in the area' - not it's not - it's sent abroad. Ridiculous.
Instead of campaigning against chains lets try to campaign for a decent high street - somewhere I can buy decent fruit/veg and meat/fish and I'd be happy as it is I have to get a bus to a decent butchers.

cider and weed lover said...

I believe Suoer Cuts are also about the expand into New Cross

Cosumer critique said...

I have to say I'm with Sainsbury's on this one. Also, I think the points made above about putting what the customer wants first are very well made. I think overall this will present opportunities for the area to improve - critically through encouraging existing local businesses to up their game. Sainsbury's does not hold a monopoly on customer offerings. Differentiate and upgrade your offering, and the custom will come, regardless of what chain maybe next door. I don't believe this campaign is really the best way for local businesses to remain (or become?) competitive in light of this proposed market 'threat'.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Sainsburys on this one. The mungs are getting restless again but it doesn't mean they're right.

Anonymous said...

Ive no objection to a sainsburys opening but please don't assume I agree with Lou, hes the very definition of a misanthrope.

Que gormless "lefty" jibes from the self appointed voice of reason, a cut bride Richard littlejohn/clarkson clone.

Lou Baker said...


I don't hate everyone - just morons.

Welcome to the right side of an argument. I hope you like it here.

J Sainsbury said...

New Cross needs some big brands to offset some of the truly awful shopfronts. I was glad to see Subway opening, for instance.
I mean, the stretch where the '
library was -what a lot of rubbish!
And anyway, protesting against companies buying commercial space! Do you think they care?

Gent Badger said...

Lou Baker -

You are so right. Thanks god!

Anonymous said...

Subway are great. Decent, tasty fair for those who want something a little more special than a sandwich.

Of course the mungs hate it!

Anonymous said...

Lou Baker,

Thanks so much for your "tell it like it is" Wednesday post. It made me laugh out loud.

to be fair, the parade of shops set back from the road have made an attempt at making it more aesthetically pleasing with coordinated painted shop fronts. It's just a shame that they're shops I don't need nor would want to go into. having said can anyone recommend the Turkish restaurant at the end of the parade?

Special nod to the launderette, great shop signage and if I was in the unfortunate position of not having a washing machine, I'd go to that one just because of the sign.

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Anonymous said...

tell sainsbury to come to brockley. we want them here

Henriettah said...

Can someone explain to me what 'Supermalt' actually is?

Anonymous said...

Yes please a sainsburys for Brockley

The Great Liberator said...

Anon - Re Turkish place

Yes - that's a good place. The set menu is great.

Funnily enough, with us being on this absurd nimby thread, whenever we are in there and have been there for a while I look out the window and am surprised that it's New Cross outside, because the restaurant is spacious, clean and well designed. Unlike New Cross Rd's shitty, 3rd-world selection of 'shops'.
People who pretend to stand up for this stuff have perhaps never spent any length of time in countries with extreme economic and cultural poverty. Poverty is not an ethnic issue, so the right-on crowd can just drop it. The problem driving the shittiness of all the money-wiring joints etc is ignorance, not 'a different way of doing things'.
Squeeze these middens out at the soonest opportunity. Bring in companies with a successful track record and self respect.

Keep it malty said...

Henriettah -

Supermalt is a malty beer substitute for people who think drinking beer seems cool but whose quaint religious bullshit forbids them from imbibing.

It's shit.

Wank badger said...

"Go and live in Zambia if you like shitty high streets so much."

That's such an excellent post it could almost be a parody. "ifyoulikeitsomuchwhydontyougoandlivethere"

I imagine you cracking one off over an Express headline while typing that.

I want a sainsburys but the snobbery, derision and dog whistle views are nausiating. They're all disgusting, but were great etc...

I'm sure nick doesn't share the views of the nasty little inadequates on here.

grosser by the minute, BC said...

There's already a Sainsbury's within spitting distance of this one or has anyone noticed? I was recently in Vancouver where there are two Starbucks on opposing corners. Superawesome, hooray for the market! Better that than internet cafes and international phone places that serve people without access to these things from their comfortable homes.

Anonymous said...

There are quite a few Starbuckses around London Bridge and no one complains (other than the Mung)

Anonymous said...

The mung thing is extremely tired and never really was funny.

Anonymous said...

This is all good-Sainsburys nd the Allotment should be happily able to co-exist.
I was in south Manchester recently where the Unicorn co-op
competes with a Tescos express and a large Morrisons usuallly beating them both on organic and sometimes non organic fruit and veg prices.
Its a brilliant example of a thriving, realistic and ethical grocery shop-I wish it was in Brockley.

Anonymous said...

I do think chainstores are a problem, and the fact that High Streets increasingly resemble each other is a fact: you can scarcely tell the difference between, say, a high street in Salisbury and one in London. All right.

But chainstores are a problem in (over-)mature economies - and New Cross' is not.
As someone else says, we are talking here of an over-abundance of fried chicken sellers and off licences. A chainstore, in this environment, does not hinder variety, but adds to it.

The notion of 'right' to exist is too student-y for my taste: a business must have the opportunity to exist, granted, but the 'right', that must be gained.

The fall of small business against big corporation is a serious issue of these days, but come on, raising it in New Cross is ludicrous...

Mb said...

My shopping routine is Deptford Market, Welbeloved, occasionally El's and Degustation then Sainsburys for the remainder. Brockley Market may well alter that and one or all of the above may loose custom. It's just the way it is, no shop has a "right to exist". The quesation could be reframed, a "right to compete". If Tesco, Budgens or indeed a local market are restricted due to anti-competetive practices then that should be dealt with but competition on price, quality or convinience is not sharp practice.

Deptford Market has identical stalls selling identical fruit and veg. They compete on price and seem to thrive, in fact there is a Tesco bang in the middle (which I never use, why should I? cheaper stuff at the stalls). A little perspective is called for.

Anonymous said...

We can still have a "decent" high street without the likes of Sainsburys. Having the likes of them in the area does not, in my view, constitute a "clean up".

There are two issues here. And having a Sainsburys in NX isn't a necessary precursor for a "good" retail environment.

mp said...

@Chris Bonnington

You own the prettiest cafe' in the area but you don't have wireless internet access...why? do we have to wait for Costa or Starbucks to open in the area to have coffee and internet at the same time? wake up please...big chains are not the enemy!!!

Anonymous said...

These people shouldn't stop New Cross from developing. It's an open market, if they worry about losing business then be more competitive.

Anonymous said...

Lady Progress is slowly making her way to New Cross.

Deptford. You're next.

Anonymous said...

Where will all the defenders of Olde New Cross here buy their yams and Somalian calling cards in the future?

kolp said...

Yams and Somalian calling cards...hmmm

Lou Baker said...

It's particularly bizarre that a cafe owner is behind this.

Sainsburys will not have a cafe. It will attract more people to the area.

Up your game and they may pop in for a coffee, muffin and wifi.

Don't - and maybe a more customer responsive organisation will open instead.

You are looking a gift horse in the mouth and complaining that it isn't a cow.

In my book that's pretty far up the dumbness scale.

St Donatt said...

I would rather not shop at Sainsburys, but the reality is that there is not much in terms of independent food shops stocking a wide selection of foods in New Cross. Deptford, Lewisham and Blackheath farmers markets all have a lot to offer and I'm looking forward to the new Brockley market opening where I hope to do a large part of my weekly shopping. However, when the big Sainsburys is shut, apart from Kismet, there is very little choice to buy ANYTHING fresh in New Cross. If you want some onions, garlic etc, then you have to walk to the Kismet or half way up Lewisham way. I would far rather have a decent greengrocer or some more 'ethnic' shops that sell vegetables that aren't half rotten, and would probably be prepared to pay a few pence more to support local businesses. But having forgotten to go to the shop before 5pm on a Sunday several times and the choice of food being Fray bentos pies or tins of beans, Sainsburys is a welcome addition. In the same way, I would happily go to Cafe Crema a lot more often if it was open on Sundays or in the evenings. But it's not, so I go elsewhere. For those of us who live in New Cross but work elsewhere, more convenient shopping and eating options are welcome. Perhaps it will encourage the other retailers in the area to up their game and provide services and goods that local people actually want to buy.

Twat said...

There's a demand for yams, sainsburys don't do them, someone else will. There's your answer. Or was there another slightly unpleasant point to your post?

Anonymous said...

@ St. Donnatt: Sainsbury's closes at 5 on Sunday too.

Newsflash: There is a gigantic existing Sainsbury's a quarter of a mile away from the site of the new one. AND, just because you don't USE the shops on New Cross Road, doesn't mean that others do not. They are obviously in demand, providing services for a part of the population that some of the commenters here are either ignorant or disdainful of. The yucky side of gentrification is not really Sainsbury's, it's the xenophobia and loathing of the lesser well-off residents of the community espoused by the folk on this blog that like to pat each other on the back and reassure each other that their odious opinions are acceptable.

Don't let the bigots get you down said...

Some commentators have those odious views, most do not. Including you and me and several others, includng the blog authors.

Lou Baker said...


Smaller stores do not have to close at 5 because they are exempt from the barking Sunday trading laws that we're afflicted with.

And no one looks down on the shoppers. Just on the misguided fools who believe they speak for the entire community when they clearly don't.

Anonymous said...

Big brands mean bigger high street rents, many shops will simply be priced out of business. This is why Cafe Creme is annoyed, along with the loss of trade.

And rightly so, small shops cannot compete with the cheap supply lines and advertising power of the chains. But people (including myself) want to shop sometimes with the brand stores. Why not make Sainsburys, Starbucks etc pay much higher rates and therefore directly subsidise the much reduced rates of the independent stores.

Would be a miracle if any government made this happen though.

Anonymous said...

But how do you differentiate whos going to pay the high rents? Are you going to force a private landlord to take a lower rent? Or are you going to subsidise an "indepentant" on what basis? What if the independent pays only minimum wage and buys intensively farmed produce? I don't see how you can practically differentiate other than some nebulous concept of which shop is "nice" and which is "nasty"

Comercial and domestic rents can be kept down if you ensure an area stays run down, a strange ambition.

Anonymous said...

To clarify I meant council rates set by the local council, these can run into thousands a year for small shop.

The definition of a "chain store" would obviously need to be set, a good start would be any of the big supermarket chains opening local small shops on the high street.

Not convinced said...

Sorry, that's too weak an argument. What about a bloke who owns five convinience stores all selling identical brands (Heinz, Kerrygold butter, marmite...) at identical prices and pays his staff badly. How would you know? Why would that be better? If by small independents like degustation and el's, well they are sufficiently different to not be directly threatened by big chains.

I don't want cloned high streets but the supermarket concept is close to 100 years old. the big purpose buolt super stores are actually quiet a modern concept? sainsburys and tesco used to be on the high street only 30 years ago? I remember going to them with my mum. Perhaps they are moving back but I don't see them as evil, it's too simple and smacks of hysteria. supermarkets are poular because people use them, it's not just advertising and hype.

Tamsin said...

I'm going to be shot down in flames for being patronising, but I would disagree with Tom that all consumers are capable of making rational choices. The familiarity of the brand name on the fascia can seductive and falsely reassuring, since although you think you get the same value for money in Tesco Express and Sainsbury's Local, the prices are higher than in the main stores.

To respond to another post, I am also not convinced that you would get vegetables, fresh or otherwise - you don't in the small Tescos and Sainsbury's attached to petrol stations.

And the cafes are concerned - as was said in the original article - because the new store would be selling packed lunches and hot drinks in direct competition. (Conceivably leading to more street litter if anyone is concerned...)

Anonymous said...

The cafe can sell packed lunches, perhaps better packed lunches.

Put out more bins

Sir Mix A Lot said...

I like big brands and I cannot lie

Tamsin said...

No - because they haven't the back up of being able to shuffle such short-dated stock between the the Supermarket, the petrol station shop (while it's still there) and the Local.

Bins aren't necessarily used and are just bigger street clutter.

Mb said...

Tamsin, if that's your best argument it doesn't bode well. If we're going to legislate on the basis of litter and other low level social impacts perhaps we should close the small independents that sell cheap superstrong cider and larger that seems only to be drunk by chaotic alcoholics and the numerous takeaways

Brockley Nick said...

@Tamsin - the shops attached to petrol stations are just convenience stores. This is a mini-supermarket and will of course be very different. It will definitely sell fruit and vegetables - I am willing to bet you £1000 that it does.

Anonymous said...

Tamsin, you are so right! This Sainsbury's will earn their keep by selling packaged sandwiches to students at lunchtime, directly competing with the food outlets on that strip. I'm sure they'll all also shift a lot of crisps and biscuits as well as the odd pint of milk. All stuff you can get likely cheaper at the small retailers in the immediate area. This Sainsbury's really has nothing to offer other than increased traffic and litter. The Thailand and Goldsmiths Cafe are both a good cheap eat and do a lot of business, and it would be a real shame if we lose them thanks to the vampiric presence of a new Sainsbury's when there is already one within eyeshot of Goldsmiths. I use the big Sainsbury's and I'm glad it's there, but the new one is too much.

Lou Baker said...

Litter is not low level.

Dropping it shows a disregard for your community, for others and for the rules of a decent society.

Properly punishing litter louts would have a drastic impact on all types of anti social behaviour and crime.

There is no litter to speak of in nice areas and lots in not nice ones.

Oh, and takeaways are the worst litter culprits - New Cross is stuffed with them.

Anonymous said...

What is the point of that comment, Lou? No litter is good litter. Do you actually think those opposed to Sainsbury's opening on the basis of increased littler would defend the litter generated by the existing take-aways of New Cross? It sure sounds like that what's you're saying. And do you think that the observation that nice areas have less litter might have something to do with paying more people to pick it up? Or do rich people just naturally clean up after themselves? If that's the case, someone better send the memo to everyone that can afford a maid and a groundskeeper.

NAT said...

@mb.Interesting to note that the Tesco petrol and convenience on Loampit vale are taking the fight straight to the opposition in stocking these same cheap superstrength cider and lagers. (Of a brand associated with a certain Viz charachter)

Wonder when we will have the application for 24 hour lcencing?

Brockley Nick said...

@NAT - interesting. It's a myth, perpetuated in some of the comments on this site, that these supermarket chains don't customise their offer to the local area. They didn't get where they are today by not understanding local customer needs.

Mb said...

Really? Well that's just pissed on my comment then. Making money by selling those REALLY cheap ciders to those with obvious alcohol issues smacks of exploitation whether your independent or not. I'm ambivalent about whether supermarkets are a malign force although I susspect a national brand may be more susceptible to pressure to stop selling them.

fmcg said...

"They didn't get where they are today by not understanding local customer needs."

I'll bet. These companies are extremely smart, the business of retail is about getting into the mind of the potential consumer. Knowing, understanding, shaping what they want, they've probably have someone in the marketing department reading this very thread, to garner reaction and tailor an inoffensive and smooth penetration of New Cross high street.

Anonymous said...

Decent, honest drinks are fair game... not everyone drinks ****ing Prosecco!

Brockley Nick said...

@fmcg - are you saying you'd rather they were worse at their jobs?

Have I had a bump on the head? said...

Fmcg.....that is a particularly daft post. Fancy a local shop looking at what the locals want and then stocking it. A cynical attempt profiteering or just, erm, being a shop.

Tamsin said...

The litter was a total side-issue. A minor factor. The independent cafes would equally generate it if they do take-aways.

My main gripe is the absolutely relentless pursuit of expansion on the part of the two big supermarkets because they are in such extreme competition with each other for the greater share the whole market. Why? What does it matter? While they both have fat healthy profits to satisfy their shareholders please just let things be. Endless booming simply leads to a bust somewhere.

Where does the need to continually expand come from? Things had settled down fairly nicely at the turn of the century - with the balance of out of town retail and convenience stores (although a pity about the loss of village shops in the process and those in the countryside without cars who depended on them) and if the status quo works why the need to hustle into a new battleground - regardless of the (relatively) innocent casualties among the bystanders - the urban and suburban indepdendents and the franchisees - who (like the village shops before them) don't punch to the same weight.

Brockley Nick said...

Because a listed company is duty bound to seek to maximise profits for their shareholders within legal limits and an ethical framework?

If you don't like the shareholder model that's fine, but it's not really a head-scratcher is it.

"Things had settled down fairly nicely at the turn of the century - with the balance of out of town retail and convenience stores"

No they hadn't, it was a disaster of urban sprawl, car journeys and high streets in ruin.

You may have also noticed that something called the internet has come along and completely changed the game for retailers (and many other industries).

I think it's fairly likely that the out of town supermarket is in long-term decline. Big, regular shops will be done online and delivered to your door at a time of your choosing. Urgent, frequent or impulse purchases will be catered for on the high street.

No need for the big supermarket any more.

That's how I do all my grocery shopping now. I haven't had to go to New X Sainsbury's for two years and my life is a lot better because of it. No more the drudgery of the weekly supermarket shop.

mb said...

I just think the high street has always been changing. It's always been dynamic with winners and loosers. New enterprises will start up, Woolworths was a high street staple, it collapsed. The financial crisis sped it up but it was on the cards. Other shops, smaller shops helped kill it off. The rise of the pound shop ate into it's cheep and cheerful offering.

If you want to see the highsteet in all it's vibrant glory with cut throat competition, giving the punters what they want and sole traders thriving. See Deptford Market. I'm from the center to slightly mung end of Brockley but ANY bussiness will survive because it sells stuff people want at a price they want with acceptable convinience. Everything else is just window dressing, 'scuse the pun.

Another 'daft' post eh? said...

It's funny how these laissez-faire, let-the-market decide "vibrant high street" arguments aren't used when there is a betting shop or a strip club in the frame. Lou Baker has a point about the hypocrisy.

Brockley Nick said...

It's not hypocrisy to hold two different opinions about two different issues.

No one that I know of is opposed to the opening of yet another bookies on the basis that they will represent unfair competition to the incumbent bookies. They are opposed to them, in some cases on moral grounds, in some cases on grounds of encouraging addiction, but most often because they drag perceptions of the area down, putting off other businesses from opening nearby and while providing a service that only a tiny fraction of the local populace ever wants.

Anonymous said...

hypocrisy? not exactly. A shop selling high street staples as apposed to a different shop selling high street staples is not the same as objecting to an additional betting shop where the existing ones cause problems, as testified by the locals and police. Bussiness complaining about another bussiness on the basis that they may entice "their" custom, thats the hipocracy.

It's so obvious said...

Monkeyboy FGS

Anonymous said...

Look at Forest Hill, nice high street with a mix of chain and independent shops.

New Cross has been rubbish for years, maybe the brands will make the high street clean its act up.

Anonymous said...

I'm just complaining because I can't afford to live in Herne Hill or Dulwich.

Rah said...

New Cross is vibrant.

But it's a low-frequency vibration.

Tamsin said...

@ Nick. Agree the internet has changed things - was thinking about those Occado vans when writing about the demise of the village shop. (I could check it out but can anyone tell me if there is a charge for delivery and if this increases with distance?) However a significant and vulnerable proportion of the population do not have such access.

A Tesco Express or Sainsbury's Local is not the same as an independently owned business - franchise or true independent - and does not have the same stake in the community or attitude to its customers. The people who run the shop on Endwell Road recognise their regulars, will put flyers for community events on their counter and take in parcels for a friend of mine in Sprules.

The profit margins in any such business are fairly narrow and big players acting small like Sainsbury's and Tesco (with their brilliantly opportunistic cold-weather advertising) have a very unfair advantage.

The health shop that used to be on New Cross Road where I first bought fresh yeast only lost 20% of its custom (or maybe it was a 20% overlap of goods) to Sainsbury's when it opened - but it was enough to push it out of business.

Tressilliana said...

Ocado (like most of all of the internet supermarket delivery services) charges for deliveries but not by distance (round here, anyway). You pay more for a peak time slot. Ocado has a scheme for paying a flat fee for a whole year's deliveries. This only works out cheaper if you make lots of orders.

Danja said...

Ocado is burning through its IPO cash pile at an impressive rate of knots. It's like 2000 all over again.

Tamsin said...

More wondering whether they were a substitute for the village shop - and how they cope with delivery distances of up to five miles.
(Full circle to my childhood when my grandmother would ring through an order to "Southern Stores" and Lionel (I think it was) with bryl-creamed hair and an archetypal buttonles workman's mac. would come out - the three miles from their Gloucester shop - with the delivery in a crate and we would return the empty from last week.)

Mb said...

Tamsin, ayers the nun head baker sells fresh yeast. Bought some on a whim and am now about to embark on focacia.

I'm a middle class cliche.

Lou Baker said...


I don't know which is more baffling. Your hatred of supermarkets (except Waitrose it seems) or your rose tinted view of independent shops.

There are, of course, some small shops which do all the things you said. They know their customers, are active in the community and are helpful. But for each small shop like that you could find two or three others which do none of those things. Where the shops are tired, the staff unfriendly and the products uninspiring. Not all small retailers are good. Some are very very shit.

Which brings us to supermarkets. They are not all bad. In fact, do your research, and you'll find that there are plenty of big companies which are ethical. Plenty of them.

Sainsburys will bring choice to customers. It will bring job opportunities. And if I was looking for a job I'd choose Sainsburys over Cafe Crema everyday. One has career opportunities the other, with the very best will in the world, does not.

There is a land beyond sandals, cords and duffel coats. A place which looks at Max and laughs. A place where we are master of our own destiny. Where we don't have to shop in supermarkets if we don't want to, but where we don't deny others that choice. A land where excellence is not an aspiration but a reality. A land where government is a facilitator not a provider. Where entrepreneurialism is the norm. Where success is admired not scorned. You should pay this land a visit. You'll never want to go back.

Mb said...

I'm choking up at that Lou! Really, you should be a politician. Such dreams! So beautifully articulated!

It could have been a bit of sick rising up though, can't be sure.

tamsin said...

Sainsbury's NXG also sell fresh yeast - and (o hypocrite that I am and with an awareness of the irony) I buy mine there when I do the "supermarket" bit of my shop. Don't often go Nunhead way.

Foccacia is a tricky thing, surely, to start with...

Mb said...

Does it? You sure? The soft squishy stuff? the focacia turned out like an olive oil and rosemary biscuit. Nice though, if you like crunchy. Hotter oven, less cooking time me thinks.

max said...

Lou, I'm honoured to be always so much in your thoughts, not sure how I feel of being part of this cluster of pet peeves and soundbites that adds up to so much less than the sum of its parts that it's actually impossible to come back to you on it.

How would I be denying you the option of shopping in a supermarket though is beyond me. Please elaborate in a way that makes sense so that I can reply.

In any case, believe me, your understanding of choice, at least on foodstuff, is a wierd one.

Supermarkets restrict choice, that's why they gave you the Nectar card, so that they don't need to stock stuff that only a few people want, they work against the development of a food culture.

It's independent shops and markets
that drive the variety.

I was back in Italy a few weeks ago and I felt that on supermarkets' shelves there was a bigger variety of products than here, and I mean different products, not different brand of the same with the supermarket brand invitably cheaper than the others. I mean different products.
And this may have to do with the fact that they have to compete with a much more developed offer from the traditional Italian grocers, and grocers in Italy have very little in common with the English corner shops, that, and on that I agree with you, are in many cases pretty awful and only survive because of lack of competition.

But there is a trend in this country where people want to eat better and an emerging independent quality offer for the many is happening.
Supermarkets had to catch up and are now stocking a better variety than what they had 10 or 15 years ago, but still in response to the independent shops.

Going on the smaller supermarkets like Tesco Metro and alike. I find them sad, they have even less variety than the big ones but with a higher percentage of comfort food for stressed people.
Some choice.

Anonymous said...

I want a Sainsburys Local (or a Waitrose would be good).

I don't spend my time objecting to the rubbish independent stores on New Cross Road/ Lewisham Way, so don't see why others should be denying me somewhere to shop!

It's called progress....

Tamsin said...

@ MB - yes, the soft squishy stuff. Or when it is really fresh off the block - slightly flaky. You have to ask at the bakery section - they look at you as if you are mad - if you have someone new to that department they have to check with a colleague how to do it, but they will sell it you - 50g or 200g. And, in denial of what I said earlier, there are a couple of people there now who recognise me, say "Ah, yeast" and go to fetch it.

Costs around 50p for 200g and keeps for a week or more in its paper bag a plastic tub in the fridge. (And you know it's alive because after a while there is condensation on the inside even at fridge temperature.) I would ideally buy slightly less at a time, but if you ask for 150g they do three packets of 50g, for reasons I have never been able to fathom - the Sainsbury's in Bromley will still sensibly do it in one chunk and just charge 3 times the 50g rate.

Lou Baker said...


You're really confused.

For a moment think of the really smart places in London. The types of places that have the kind of retailers you talk about in Italy. The ones with the nice, unique, fancy food.

Think of where you find stuff like that in London. There's Chiswick. Dulwich. Hampstead. Islington. And others, but they're the main ones. They're places where you can go to get nice smart food from good independent retailers. Nice delis (lots of), great choice, a wide range of shops and a pleasant environment. And - of course - they all have a Tesco, or a Sainsbury or another 'convenience store' type of one of the main supermarkets. Some of the places have two or three such supermarkets.

You see what somewhere like Chiswick does really well is mix great independent retailers with a splattering of national chains. So you get Waterstones and Evans Cycles but also independent book and bike shops. You have lots of nice boutiques selling kids clothes but there is also a Next and Baby Gap. You have smart delis but also a Sainsburys Local.

Most of the shops you're worried about in New Cross sell exactly the same things as a small supermarket but they do it less well.

I have little time for any of the objectors. New Cross is basically a dump which needs investment. You are far more likely to get that from Sainsburys than from Cafe Crema - which has done precisely what for our community? This bloke is running a campaign for the community. Perhaps he can tell us what he does for us.

My guess? F*** all. Like most campaigners who are largely full of hot air.

max said...

Lou, you're greatly mistaken, you think that variety and quality of food means fancy food from fancy shops.

Variety of food means only that, variety, and I can get all of that in Lewisham!
Yes I can, and without spending a fortune.

Lewisham market, Gennaro's delicatessen, Turkish Food Centre... all affordable and all with more choice than any Tesco Metro or Sainsury's Local.

If you want me to articulate more about Italy I can tell you that there grocers are normally not that fancy, just like here fancy shops are only to be found in fancy neighbourhoods, but regular people shop in normal shops where they are presented with a real choice at affordable prices. They'll find vegetables that look normal, which means that just like people they come in all shapes and sizes instead of the clones you find here.
And the products on sale are largely produced nearby, not flown in from some multistorey farm on steroids in Holland, and all this because there is a centuries' old culture of good food there.

Here until Jamie Oliver came from heaven people thought that beans and tomatoes grow in tins.

And that's why in this country people like you think that supermarkets are great, because there is no established food culture for the masses, only for the few.

Good food here is thought as something for an elite, the anecdote of Peter Mandelson mistaking mushy peas for guacamole explains it well.
In most of Europe that joke would not work, because a posh boy entering a working class eaterie would find much the same food he normally eats.

And your idea that good and varied food means fancy food is perfectly in line with this misconception.

PS: I don't really know much about New Cross and its shops, in fact I wasn't taking part in this conversation until you called me in.
I still dislike the small supermarkets though, not as much as those awful corner shops that sell rotten potaoes and out of date milk but still enough to give them a wide berth if I can.

Mb said...

Max, come over to the brockley market thread. Loads of positive musings. Barley a misanthrope in sight. Great stuff, got some very good looking plum tomatoes that will be getting the puttenesca test later in the week.

Lou Baker said...

But Max the small stores that you worship sell PRECISELY the same products you'll get in a supermarket.

I have no problem with choice. I have no problem with grotty retailers, with swanky retailers, with local retailers, with national retailers. I don't care.

You should be able to shop where you choose. So should I. So should all the people who want to shop in Sainsburys.

You want to restrict choice, banning shops you don't like. I think it should be down to shoppers - not campaign groups or bureaucrats - to decide what is, and what isn't, appropriate.

max said...

MB, I will. By the way I thought that you and Tamsin were more the sourdough types.

Lou, I certainly don't want to ban supermarkets, they're a necessary evil, but personally I have a wider horizon than that.

Mb said...

Sour? No, you're thinking of someone else.

Chris Cafe Crema said...

Well well, what a can of worms. Apparently I'm a 'complete berk' and a 'mung' (whatever that is). At Cafe Crema, we're not worried that the new Sainsbury's will destroy our profits because we don't see them as competitors; but it will definitely have an adverse effect on many decent local businesses (and I regularly spend time and money in many of them.) This happened when the existing New Cross Sainsbury's opened, forcing many small shops (including a butcher, baker, greengrocer and florist) to close, within its first year of trading. I'm very pleased to say that a new greengrocer's/ deli/florist is getting ready to open as I write; it will have a much better chance of success if it's not competing with a new chain store. The idea that it's a level playing field is laughable; small shops don't have a fraction of the buying power of the chains.

On the point about the provision of quality jobs: Sainsbury's have spent a lot of money successfully resisting union membership among their staff. How 'ethical' is that? At least they don't need to worry about their new automated checkouts joining a union.

Arthur Potts Dawson, founder of the People's Supermarket, said in today's Independent: 'if you take on the big supermarkets, you must get ready to be kneecapped'. Fundamentally, this is about how much power we want the large corporations to have in our society - power which they take under the guise of giving us more 'choice' but which suffocates genuine diversity, as well as killing off small, unremarkable, useful, honest businesses.

Thanks for giving us the space here Nick, it's appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Oh please, I go to Goldsmiths and the idea that I'd choose a crap meal deal from Sainsburys over eating out at the Thailand (or the goldsmiths caff) for the same price is just wrong. Also patronising.
As far as I can see, the only real loser from a new Sainsburys will be the Goldsmiths student union shop, itself another (far murkier) chain, which gets away with selling out of their stock of overpriced, questionably flavoured, poor condition sandwiches every single day of the week.
The high street is not a zero sum situation, the way to create more money is to create more jobs: that is, previously inactive people working. And, as it stands, the level of economic inactivity within new cross is unbelievable. There are 5000 undergraduates at goldsmiths, and perhaps 50? jobs actually open and available to us within the local area - this is without considering locals. This is why the new Sainsburys would be a good thing.

And. If we hypothetically assume that New Cross really is a zero sum situation, that every penny spent at Sainsburys was previously spent elsewhere, then if the figure about 30% of the takings from chains staying in the area versus 70% from small stores is correct, by my calculations (ha) that means the new Sainsburys only has to just over double the spending at small stores versus supermarkets, via new spending and changes in shopping habits, for it to actually contribute more money to people locally - I don't think that sounds implausible?

Blah blah said...

Are Jews still welcome at your cafe Chris?

name said...

Sainsbury's being there is like shooting fish in a barrell. It's easy money, there is no competition for Sainsbury's it's just scoop up the cash. No hard work building a brand, establishing a reputation as it's all done so I can understand how other traders can feel put out.

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