Edinburgh Evening News
A SHOPKEEPER today claimed to be the first casualty of a controversial new Tesco store in Edinburgh. Javed Iqban, 39, who ran Avi Newsagents on Bruntsfield Place, said that he had been forced to close as a result of competition from the retail giant which opened its Metro outlet on Holy Corner in May. Local traders, supported by Green MSP Mark Ballard, had fought a long campaign against the supermarket, claiming that it would cripple many smaller shops in the area. Today, many small businesses admitted they were feeling the pinch of the supermarket.
Mr Iqban said his takings had tumbled as soon as the store opened. He said: "After Tesco opened nobody came in here. We were OK before but everyone started going there for their groceries. "My takings were halved and halved again, from £6000 a week to £3000. The streets went quiet and none of our customers came back. "I have a three-year lease which has still got a year and a half to run. Business was good, right until Tesco opened.
"It has affected the whole street. I've spoken to other shopkeepers, and everybody's very, very quiet." Yunnis Ahmed, of the nearby Central Fruit Shop, added: "It's terrible. Tesco has been very bad for business. Nobody comes in anymore because they've got special offers on everything." The 13,500 square feet Tesco Metro store is smaller than a regular Tesco supermarket, and is a few hundred yards from a revamped Waitrose on Morningside Road, along with a newly opened Marks & Spencer food store. A spokesman for Peckham's delicatessen and restaurant - a few doors from Avi Newsagents - said: "I think Tesco and Waitrose have had an impact on the area as a whole from what other traders are saying. I know the newsagent across the road is feeling the pinch. "The product we supply is more exclusive and we promote local suppliers wherever we can. We take a pride in being a community-based shop. Tesco has a very strong product, but combined with Waitrose and a possible Marks & Spencer as well - these things are always going to impact. It's a free market, but they should have thought it through more because local shops are suffering. It's a sad thing."
Fishmonger Andrew Main, 58, founder of the Comiston, Morningside, Churchill and Bruntsfield Business Association, said: "Things never stand still. No matter what opposition there is to supermarkets, they always get their way. I didn't think a newsagent would suffer as much as a greengrocer's. It does affect small shops though - they get their business by opening earlier and staying open later than other shops. It's disappointing because all these small shops pay large rates to the city. Supermarkets can't leave anything to anyone. They've got to have everyone's business."
A Tesco spokesman insisted that the store opening was good news for customers. "The retail sector is fiercely competitive and shops of all sizes can thrive in this buoyant market. "We offer quality products at a good price, but we know that customers vote with their feet and if we are unable to offer our excellent prices and good customer service they will decide to shop elsewhere. The development of the UK grocery market has been good news for consumers, who have benefited from unprecedented value, innovation and convenience over the past decade, precisely because of high levels of competition."