Tesco onslaught continues in St Albans

SUPERMARKET giant Tesco is to open another express store on a main road in St Albans just under a mile from a Morrisons supermarket and a stone’s throw away from smaller general stores.

The Tesco Express will open on Hatfield Road in the buildings currently occupied by Madina General Stores and The Tarquin Shop, in a move that could dramatically change the face of the small retail community.

For Mohammed Akhtar, owner of Madina General Stores, it is a chance to move on and focus on his charity shop, also on Hatfield Road, which supports his charity the Kashmir Deaf Children’s Trust.

He said: “I no longer have the man power required to run this business and I want to concentrate on my charity work. It’s very important and although I’ve been in this business for 40 years and 15 of those have been in this building, it’s time for me to stop.”

Andrew Griffin, owner of The Tarquin Shop which sells educational resources, said that the chance to move out of Hatfield Road was welcome as hikes in rent were making it impossible to remain trading in a store in St Albans.

He said: “The cost of rent and rates are just too high. It’s gone up 50 per cent since we moved in here five years ago.

“It’s no longer possible to rent in St Albans and, as much of our business is already online, we’re planning to operate exclusively through the internet.”

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Mr Griffin also said that he had been given the impression in discussions that Tesco were looking for another site within the city to open an express store.

But Neil Saunders, the agent who had acted on behalf of Tesco during the Hatfield Road deal, said that he was under no instructions from Tesco to find another premises.

For the traders who will remain behind when Tesco opens the move has left them scratching their heads.

Mr B. Sritharan of St Albans Food and Wine said he was surprised by their choice of location. “It’s not the type of place where basket shoppers come. They want one item or two, nothing more. It will be interesting to see what happens.

“If Tesco want to come, they will come. They are the big boys after all, but I’m not sure that they will get enough custom here.”

Madina General Stores has been sold by Mr Akhtar to his brother, who will reopen the store at 55 Hatfield Road.