Asda seek­ing ap­proval to open store at ex-nor­tel site

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - BY MAR­GARET CAN­NING

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

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