Store issues ultimatum over rivals

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SAINSBURY’S supermarket has warned it will not fit out its new town centre store until a verdict has been reached over expansion plans put forward by Tesco and Bicester Village.

Sainsbury’s, which is in partnership with Cherwell District Council over the Bicester town centre redevelopment, said it is ‘very concerned’ over the plans to create a new, larger Tesco store and expand Bicester Village.

It warns the proposal “directly affects the viability and future success of the town centre redevelopment” and said the district council’s own studies show there is not enough capacity for more retail outside the town centre.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We are very concerned about the significant impact these proposals would have on the existing town centre and town centre redevelopment.

“As such we have not yet committed to fitting our store and will not do so until the outcome of these applications are known.”

The spokesman said, if approved, the proposals would mean a 40 per cent increase in trips to the Tesco store and 30 per cent increase in trips to Bicester Village on Saturdays.

“The success of the Bicester town centre redevelopment is wholly based on encouraging and supporting retail expansion in the town centre,” said the spokesman.

Tesco and Bicester Village have pledged to spend £11 million on improving roads around Bicester Village and the proposed new Tesco store as part of their expansion plans.

But Sainsbury’s said congestion at Christmas and bank holidays has not been looked at as part of the proposals.

The Tesco and Bicester Village plans are due to be discussed by Cherwell District Council’s planning committee on January 3.

Responding to the Sainsbury’s statement, a spokesman for Tesco said the plans had been very popular with the local community, adding: “In addition to the 250 jobs that will be created, the vastly improved access arrangements will make it much easier to shop with us, which we know is very important to our customers.

“This will mean people can stay and shop in Bicester rather than having to travel further afield to do their weekly shop. Town centre shops will benefit as a result.”