The noticeable absence of Tesco on Roman Road

posted in: Shopping | 22

Ten years ago Bow residents lost their only high street supermarket. As more delays are announced why is there still no sign of Tesco Metro opening?

Red and blue Tesco logo roof sign
Planned Tesco supermarket on Roman Road, Bow
10 January 2015 

Is Roman Road Tesco on list of stores to be closed or cancelled?

Tesco has announced it will close 43 stores across the UK, which it says are unprofitable. Bow residents and Roman Road businesses alike have been asking is the proposed Tesco on Gladstone Place is on this list.Following our enquiries, Tesco’s department of corporate affairs issued this statement:

I wanted to write to update you on our planned new Metro store in Gladstone Place, Bow.

As you will have read in the media, our performance as a business has fallen significantly short of where we would want it to be. As a result the financial resources we have available for new investment are severely constrained and we have had to critically review all current and future investment decisions.

Our absolute imperative has to be to protect the future of our business for the c.300,000 colleagues we employ in communities all over the UK. In recent weeks we have had to face up to some very tough decisions which affect many hard-working people. We don’t do that lightly and so it is with a heavy heart that we are announcing today that we are unable to proceed with 49 new planned store developments across the country.

I am conscious that you may see this news and be concerned about the future of our plans in Bow. However, I would like to reassure you that it remains our intention to open our planned store. We continue to believe that the store would provide a valued service to the local community and we know that many people are keenly anticipating the opening. We are looking forward to bringing new jobs and investment to Bow, and providing local customers with the best we have to offer.

We are not yet in a position to confirm an opening date as the landlord has not yet completed the overall development and we need to wait for this to be done before we are given the keys to the site. We will be sure to keep you closely updated on progress.

See the full list of proposed Tesco that have been cancelled and the 43 Tesco stores to be closed across England and Scotland.

The RRRBA continue to lobby the Council about the ongoing delay and are requesting a meeting between the parties involved: the tenant Tesco, the developer Goldquest, and the owner Circle Housing.

11 October 2014 

After ten years why is there still no Tesco?

A decade ago, Roman Road Safeway, and it’s large car park, was part of a busy local shopping market providing a reliable place for people to pick up the weekly shop or last minute dinner.

When plans to demolish the supermarket and its car park were announced along with news that it was being replaced by a residential development of over 300 flats by Circle Housing (part of Circa) with only a smaller Tesco Metro replacing the large supermarket space, a large petition was started by local residents – but to no avail.

The closure of Safeway, after Morrisons took over, meant that residents had to use more expensive local alternatives or take the bus to Bethnal Green or Bromley-by-Bow to do their main supermarket shop.

Many believe that the lack of an ‘anchor’ shop to keep residents and visitors shopping on the Roman is one factor that has contributed to the increased number of empty shops on Roman Road over the last decade.

While some convenience stores on Roman Road have flourished with the absence of a supermarket, many residents were disappointed that the planned Tesco Metro store didn’t open sooner while the residential development was in planning and construction.

Finally, after long delays in development, the flats were completed this summer and people are moving in. But still no sign of the Tesco Metro.

Local Councillor Rachel Blake has been monitoring the progress of the development closely. “At first, local Councillors were told that the supermarket would open in autumn 2013, then early 2014, then July, then the autumn 2014, but it looks and feels like autumn is becoming winter and there’s still no sign of Tesco. We’ve even heard rumours it won’t open open until April 2015.”

“This continued uncertainty undermines all our efforts to keep the Roman thriving,” says Blake, “so I’ve written to the Council and Circle (the landlord) to get an explanation for the delay and an opening date that we can rely on. And, I’ll be asking what the plan B is. Anyone who is serious about the Roman understands that it needs a supermarket. “

With the recent announcement that Tesco has mothballed the a second big supermarket store in Cambridgeshire, rumours are rife as to whether the Tesco Metro will ever open in Bow. This has led to some local residents approaching alternative supermarket chain Aldi. From this conversation thread on local forum Street Life, it would appear Aldi is interested and have sent their property scout to check the premises.

Tower Hamlets has no Aldi store so an Aldi store would attract Aldi fans from across Tower Hamlets potentially bringing more footfall than an ubiquitous Tesco Metro – perhaps the long catalogue of delays and disappointments that have surrounded the Old Ford/Tesco development on Roman Road may yet have a fortuitous ending.

ADD TO THIS ARTICLE

Aldi v. Tesco – which one for you? Do we need a supermarket at all?

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22 Responses

  1. Jo croucher

    Aldi all the way. It seems like Tesco are holding the council to ransom over the change in trading hours. I presume they normally get away with whatever they please as local councils don’t want to upset them or to have large units standing vacant. It’s about time people turned against Tesco. Aldi would be really popular, much cheaper than Tesco which is what we could do with.

  2. While a supermarket may be good don’t assume our local grocery stores are more expensive. In my experience, London Food Centre and Inci beat supermarkets on price on many products and especially fruit and veg. No doubt others do too.

  3. Eileen Mason

    I have to agree with Jo, Aldi all the way for me too. I have experience that Tesco Metro sees itself as a convenience store anyway and charge as such, so the bargains advertised are hiked up in these strops. The convenience stores in and around the Roman are cutting each others throats as there are so many of them. The produce re fruit and veg are not fresh as they cannot sell them quickly enough and cannot afford to throw them out. We need a proper supermarket sooner rather than later. As we know Tesco is in trouble but why should it be our problem! Lets get Aldi interest now

  4. No thankyou!!
    I assumed this site was about supporting the local community not encouraging big multinationals to homogenize the street. I enjoy shopping at the market stalls and independent shops. They’re better value and run by people who give a $**T!

  5. Elmedina

    Aldi please !!!!!!!! No more Tesco’s. They are on every corner, are expensive , disorganized and starting to lack in customer service!! Please no more!

  6. Dawud Marsh

    Do we really need a supermarket on Roman Road? They suck custom from other, local shops, add nothing to the local feel of a place – all the shops look the same and sell the same wherever they are. Large national supermarket chains are killing the high street, not saving it! It would be better pressurising the council to make it easier for new local shops to start up then to bring in a faceless supermarket. You can’t beat Roman Road market for fresh fruit and veg – see the market stall outside Icelands, nor for local colour and a wide range of choice of produce as well as Organic and healthy option foods. The prices are comparable and people working there get to know residents and and their shoppers and there is a real sense of community. There are also some amazing cafes and coffee shops – despite Costa! Another big national supermarket? No thanks!

    • Just for the record, Costa is a franchise operation, so although it is a national brand this cafe on Roman Road is an SME run by someone who wanted to set up a Costa on the Roman Road because of his childhood links with the place (and no, it isn’t me and I don’t have any special interest in Costa in general or this cafe in particular).

  7. Sam salmons

    I feel roman road desperately does need a chain supermarket to compliment the other food shops there, ALDI will be a big draw for new footfall to our area. Tesco metro are last resort, picking up a pint of milk kinda place – what we need is a replacement for the safeway store – bring on ALDI, I’ve been looking to see where my nearest aldi was recently as I’m so fed up with tesco.

  8. Alan Mead

    Having a supermarket in the “Roman” is not an either/or situation. I live in Bethnal Green where we already have a Tesco Metro. As Elmedina states, customer service from Tesco is all but non-existent. When shopping, I use the market stalls for good value fruit and veg., and the butcher for fresh meat.
    Should an ALDI open in the Roman Road, I will shop there, and also use the local market traders. For me it would be a win/win situation. Incidentally, I am one of the Streetlife contributors who have contacted ALDI to alert them to the demand for them to have a presence in Tower Hamlets, preferably in the currently disused site.

  9. I never wanted another Tesco. Bow needs an aldi.

  10. Some local shops already offer reasonable prices and adequate quality but with a new supermarket the prices will go down and the quality might improve. Surely a good thing for local residents.

    A new supermarket might be a good place for some part time work for local residents – another good thing.

    Aldi would be much better than Tesco – mainly due to lower prices and some continental products. It is not the nicest shopping experience so let us not get too hyped with Aldi. Waitrose would surely be the best option.

  11. Catherine Morris

    I will still buy my fruit and veg on the market but there things such as alcohol or even a decent mop, that I can’t get from the traders on Roman Rd

  12. Agree with the sentiment of other residents above. I really don’t want a Tesco on my doorstep.

  13. What’s wrong with iceland anyway?

  14. Dawud Marsh

    Do we really need a national supermarket chain on Roman Road? They suck custom from other, local shops, add nothing to the local feel of a place – all the shops look the same and sell the same wherever they are. Large national supermarket chains are killing the high street, not saving it! It would be better pressurising the council to make it easier for new local shops to start up than to bring in a faceless supermarket. You can’t beat Roman Road market for fresh fruit and veg – see the market stall outside Icelands, nor for local colour and a wide range of choice of produce as well as Organic and healthy option foods. The prices are comparable and people working there get to know residents and and their shoppers and there is a real sense of community. There are also some amazing cafes and coffee shops – despite Costa! Another big national supermarket? No thanks!

  15. I’ve just posted this on the comments section of the OurBow.com site:

    Have spoken to Tesco’s press office today who assure me the supermarket is going ahead. They’re still waiting for the landlord/developer to complete the handover.

    Here’s their statement: “We’re still planning to open a store in Gladstone Place, however the building is not yet completed and we are awaiting for the appropriate handover from the landlord. We look forward to serving the local community and will keep them updated as our plans progress.”

  16. Emma Lloyd

    Definitely Aldi! Really pleased this issue has been raised! Have been waiting for that tesco to be built for years. Assumed not happening.

  17. Sue Bottwood

    Anything would be better than Tesco – which I hate – and there are too many in TH. Like the idea of Aldi – as I think it will be a ‘destination’ supermarket – good for the rest if Roman Rd. I don’t think the good convenience stores will suffer – there’s lots of evidence that people’s shopping habits are changing – people are not doing big supermarket ‘shops’ as much. If Aldi are not interested what about the Co-Op?

  18. Co-Op is just a corner shop with a bit of branding added. Limited ranges, poor quality, gimmicky promotions, no value for money, no meaningful loyalty scheme, no exclusive products (Lidl and Aldi at least have some European best sellers). The only thing that makes Co-Op different from other shops is a claim they give back to community – we would struggle to find anyone though who understands it and can explain it.

  19. E. White

    I really think that Tesco should not be encouraged especially after the recent news regarding their behaviour added to the fact that there are too many of their shops in the borough already. I lived near a Tesco metro previously and they rarely had the products I wanted when I shopped there. I feel that the independent shops and the market three days a week cater very well for the local community. Having said that, I am aware that those who do not have cars and are unable to travel to supermarkets need to have a supermarket closer to home therefore I would suggest that Aldi be given the opportunity to open locally as the nearest one is miles away.