Asda seeking approval to open store at ex-nortel site
SUPERMARKET giant Asda has announced it has submitted a planning application for a new store in Co Antrim with the potential to create 250 jobs.
The proposed store at Doagh Road in Newtownabbey is at the former base of telecoms firm Nortel.
And if planning permission is granted by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, the store will have a sales area of 40,000 sq ft, a petrol filling station, 450 free car parking spaces and will offer Asda’s Click and Collect service.
It would be the company’s 18th store in Northern Ireland.
Asda said that nearly 200 residents in the area had come to a public exhibition on its plans in April, leading to “over 200 positive responses”.
Joe Mcdonald, Asda’s senior manager for corporate affairs in Northern Ireland, said: “People in Newtownabbey recognised that the store would bring new jobs and lower prices — a huge boost to an area that has suffered major job losses in recent years.
“We also appreciate the many helpful suggestions that were made during our public consultation.
“We now eagerly await the decision of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s planning committee.
“We hope, when making their decision, they will consider the huge public support demonstrated through our community consultation.”
Asda entered the Northern Ireland market in 2005, with the acquisition of Safeway/morrison’s 13-store portfolio.
Asda now has 17 stores across Northern Ireland, including one Asda Living at Cityside Retail Park and a distribution centre in Larne.
The announcement from Asda that it is now submitting the planning application following a community consultation comes as the latest grocery sector figures show its market share is now 17.1%, making it the third-biggest operator in Northern Ireland.
And Asda and rival Sainsbury’s, which has 14 stores in Northern Ireland, are planning a £51bn merger which could transform the supermarket sector.
However, the potential deal is to be subjected to an in-depth review by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) watchdog.
The CMA confirmed last week that following a phase 1 investigation, the deal raised enough concerns to merit a more detailed review.
It pointed out that the businesses have overlapping stores in many of the same areas, with shoppers potentially facing higher prices or deterioration in service as a result.
SPENDING on groceries here is up by around £92 to £4,331 per year, with German discount supermarket Lidl claiming the biggest sales growth, according to a report.
Kantar Worldpanel’s Market Share survey for the 12 months to September 9 also revealed that Sainsbury’s market share of 17.3% has overtaken that of Asda, at 17.1%, for the first time since last November.
Across the sector, sales were up 1.4%. Shoppers were spending an extra £92 per year compared to two years ago, with an average spend of £4,331.
Kantar said that the total spend was up as prices were up, even though purchase volumes were down. Sainsbury’s has 14 stores here, while Asda has 17 — and the pair are in the throes of planning a £51bn merger, which is now subject to an in-depth review by the Competition and Markets Authority.
Asda has also confirmed it’s applied for planning permission to build its 18 store in Mallusk.
But with sales growing by 2.2%, Tesco has held onto its dominant position in the market, with its share increasing to 35.3%.
Tesco has around 50 stores in Northern Ireland, ranging from small-format Tesco Express to large Tesco Extras.
David Berry, director at Kantar Worldpanel said: “The Northern Irish grocery market has experienced another year of growth, with sales up by 1.4% for the second consecutive period. Shoppers have spent a record average on groceries in the past year — £4,331. This is up by £92 compared with two years ago, despite purchase volumes decreasing, thanks to higher prices.
“Among the retailers Tesco has experienced another strong period, posting sales growth of 2.2% and edging its market share up to 35.3%.
“This is the retailer’s highest share since February, and prior to that since January 2015.
“Having been level as recently as November of last year, Sainsbury’s has pulled ahead of Asda in recent months, and a gap of 0.2 percentage points now separates the retailers.
“Sainsbury’s now accounts for 17.3% of grocery sales in Northern Ireland, while Asda’s share fell slightly to 17.1%. Lidl posted the strongest overall sales growth in the past year at 6.7%, enabling the retailer to hold its share of the market at the record level of 5.7% achieved last month.”
Lidl is also planning a new store in Strabane, Co Tyrone.
Optimistic: David Berry