Battle in store for supermarket over Portobello plans

The owner of the Woodwares store is retiring
The owner of the Woodwares store is retiring
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A PROTEST group is set for a fresh fight after supermarket giant Sainsbury’s revealed it was to take over a historic shop in Portobello.

Local traders today said the chain’s arrival in the town was “the last thing they needed”.

Campaign group Portobello Campaign Against The Superstore (PCATS), which successfully fought plans to open a superstore at a Scottish Power site in 2005, is now planning to meet to discuss taking action.

Sainsbury’s said it would create around 25 full and part-time jobs with its new “Local” branch after taking over Woodwares Mica Hardware in Portobello High Street.

The owners of the hardware shop said they were retiring and welcomed the supermarket.

As Woodwares already has planning permission for retail use, Sainsbury’s would only need to submit an application to change the signage on the listed building.

Billy Hoy, who owns independent butcher Findlay’s of Portobello, said it could spell disaster for smaller shops.

He said: “Things are that quiet at the moment the last thing you need is a big supermarket in the area.

“Shoppers are going to go there as they will be able to buy all sorts of bits and bobs under the one roof. Everywhere these stores open up, the smaller shops end up closing.”

Stephen Hawkins, chairman of PCATS, said: “I’m disappointed Portobello is losing Woodwares, which is part of the variety of the High Street.

“I also wonder if some traders won’t survive after a national store moves in.”

Portobello councillor Mike Bridgman said he hoped Sainsbury’s would consult businesses before going ahead with the plans. He added: “I don’t think it will go down well with a community who fought against the opening of a supermarket a few years ago.”

Campaigners in Bruntsfield led an unsuccessful campaign to prevent Sainsbury’s taking over the former Peckham’s delicatessen earlier this year, while a new store in Morningside has been welcomed by locals.

The company said the Bruntsfield branch had proved successful and been welcomed by some nearby businesses.

Regional acquisitions manager Jim Bishop said: “Sainsbury’s always works hard with local traders, and our stores can help to keep high street locations vibrant after other shops have closed.”