Round here everyone’s been talking about the opening of a dinky branch of Sainsbury’s in the village. It’s one of the firm’s tiny convenience stores (no car park, no deli, no Starbucks…). Everyone’s happy except the other local retailers, all of whom hate it. The off licenses, supermarkets, butchers and petrol station are all certain it’ll kill them off. The insertion of mega-brand convenience stores like these into fragile local business ecologies will be a powerful diagnostic for their health. The weakest could be destabilised and might collapse &ndash: a disaster for diversity and choice. Are planners considering the chilling effect of the big brands when they approve their applications?
Meanwhile, The Economist wonders if the chain can survive as an independent entity under opera buff Peter Davis: “Can a mass-market retailer successfully sell both gourmet olive oil to City analysts in London and white bread north of Watford? For the moment, Tesco is doing it. But Sainsbury fails to deliver a superior offer on any count: not price, not range, not quality” (you’ll need a subscription to see this story).