Grocers’ Federation voices fears over Aldi

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A PR boss of a nationwide traders’ association has warned that an Aldi store in Hawick could have a “devastating impact”.

John Lee, the public affairs manager for the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) – the convenience store retailers group – has voiced strong opposition to plans for a new supermarket in Commercial Road.

Writing to the Hawick News, Mr Lee said: “On behalf of our members in Hawick we are writing to you to express our concern about a potential development in the town by a large discount chain.”

The Edinburgh-based offical points out that although its members arenot against competition, experience has shown them that such developments displace local customers and jobs.

And he stated: “Overall there is usually no long-term increase in employment and the impact on small, local businesses can be devastating.”

The statement from the Grocers’ Federation follows a recent public exhibition by Wilton Mills Limited (WML), the company behind plans to bring an Aldi store to the former mill site – an event which the developer says received a favourable reception.

Gavin Stevenson, a director of WML, told the Hawick News: “We had a good, steady turnout throughout the day and there was keen interest in our proposals.”

And although still awaiting the response from feedback forms which were handed out, he asserted: “Early indications suggest strong support for the development of the site and for Aldi to add to the retail food offer in Hawick.”

This view is in stark contrast to that of Mr Lee, who added: “It seems clear there is currently no deficiency in grocery provision in Hawickand therefore simply no need for any additional large-
scale supermarket development.”

He concluded: “It is locally-owned, independent stores which are much more likely to source genuinely local produce, use local tradespeopleand reinvest money into the local economy – it is these stores which we should be supporting if we want
viable and vibrant town centres.”

WML expects to lodge a planning application with Scottish Borders Council later in January.