BREAKING NEWS: Tesco confirm they are to pull out of Chatteris for good and no longer want a store in Whittlesey
11:35 08 January 2015
Tesco dropped the bombshell today that they will not open in Chatteris and have also dropped plans for a store in Whittlesey.
David Lewis, chief executive officer for Tesco, delivered the news in an email to Fenland Council leader John Clark.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing today that we are unable to proceed with 49 new planned store developments across the county, including our planned stores in Chatteris and Whittlesey,” said Mr Lewis.
“I am very sorry that we have not been able to deliver the investment that we intended. I know this news will be a real disappointment to many people in your community and we are extremely grateful for the support we have received for our plans.”
Cllr Clark said: “We are extremely disappointed by this news. I am seeking an urgent meeting with Tesco to find out precisely what their intentions are.”
Tesco mothballed the Chatteris store last year just as it was completed and with an expected opening date prior to Christmas.
But the maelstrom surrounding the industry generally – and turmoil over Tesco’s drop in profits – prompted the decision not to open.
Tesco’s decision to pull out of opening their new Fenland stores – and to close 40 others across the UK- was blamed by Mr Lewis on the company’s performance which he said “has fallen significantly short of where we would want it to be”.
He told the Fenland Council leader: “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.”
He said his “absolute imperative” was to protect the 300,000 people who work for Tesco and in recent weeks had faced “very tough decisions which affect many hard working people”.
He promised to work closely with Fenland Council “to find the right solution for your community. We will be seeking alternative tenants for the unit at Chatteris and are working with the developer from whom we were intending to lease the store in Whittlesey to agree a way forward”.
He promised Cllr Clark that Tesco officials would be in touch by phone shortly “to answer your questions”.
Both the Chatteris store in Fenland Way and the proposed Tesco in Station Road, Whittlesey, had been promoted by Manea based Harrier Developments. Tesco had also wanted to switch their proposed Whittlesey store to Eastrea Road and fought a lengthy battle with March developer Bruce Smith who had promoted a Sainsbury’s store and country park nearby. Tesco’s decision now leaves Sainsbury’s in the driving seat at Whittlesey and they have recently re-submitted an amended their planning application for the Eastrea store to take account of access modifications.