TEN YEARS AGO THIS WEEK: Town was poised for store wars

Aldi, off Springfield Street in Market Harborough
Aldi, off Springfield Street in Market Harborough

Those following the Tesco out-of-town store debate in recent months might find a parallel to similar rows about town supermarkets from ten years ago this week.

Back in late August of 2004, the town was in the midst of another store war, this time between two German discount supermarkets.

Lidl, off Springfield Street in Market Harborough

Lidl, off Springfield Street in Market Harborough

Aldi was due to get the green light to build a new store on the edge of Harborough town centre in Springfield Street, directly opposite a site where rival Lidl already had planning permission to construct its own supermarket.

Back then, Lidl was opposing Aldi’s plans because it did not believe the need for a second store near to its own had been proved.

Planning officers at Harborough District Council were advising councillors to accept Aldi’s proposals.

In a report, the council’s then planning manager Lance Wiggins said the development met “an identified need for retail provision”.

However, Lidl had written several letters to the council saying there was no need for a second store in the area and it would adversely affect other businesses.

In the end, both shops were built and a decade on, both appear to be performing extremely well.

During a district council planning meeting this May which gave Tesco the go-ahead for its store in Rockingham Road, officers said Aldi was trading 85 per cent higher in Harborough compared to similar Aldi stores in comparable markets in other parts of the UK.

Both stores enjoy a combined 13 per cent market share of all convenience goods shopping in the town, the meeting was told.

And it’s no surprise why these companies fight tooth and nail for prime sites in Harborough: the gross turnover of all convenience goods trade in Harborough last year was £82.6million, according to town planning officers.

Story by Alex Blackwell.

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