GIANT Asda plans a £40m store for Chapel Hill near Huddersfield town centre – the site of Thomas Broadbent engineers.
Rivals Tesco are pushing for a megastore off Southgate on the site of the Sports Centre to replace their outdated Viaduct Street store.
Every such plan stirs a hornets’ nest. MP Barry Sheerman is heading opposition to both Tesco and Asda proposals.
And that has always been the case looking back at Huddersfield’s supermarket history.
Every supermarket – from Lodge’s giant store in Birkby in 1975 to Hillards in Viaduct Street in 1978, Asda at Brackenhall and Morrisons at Waterloo – has attracted furious opposition from nearby residents and local traders.
And practically every one has beaten that opposition into the ground. The march of the supermarkets seems inexorable.
Edward Lodge is the former chairman of Lodge’s Supermarkets and now worries about the growth of the superstore phenomenon.
"Town shops like the ones inside Huddersfield ring road are the social and commercial heart of a town," he said.
"If your policy is to benefit the superstores on the outskirts, that is to the detriment of the town centre shops and traders.
"I don’t blame the supermarkets for doing this and I can’t blame people for shopping in places where there is unlimited free parking.
"But when Asda claims it will create 400 jobs at its new Chapel Hill store we should be aware that this probably means the loss of 600 jobs from small specialist shops elsewhere in town. You’ll end up with a ghost town.’’
He added: "Supermarkets started by taking the bulk of grocery trade from small town grocers. Now, they sell hardware, clothes, garden furniture, greetings cards, newspapers, petrol, flowers. They took the loaf and now they’re sweeping up the crumbs."
These fears are backed by research and publishing group Corporate Watch repeatedly gives substance to the fears most people share on monopolies.
"The ‘cheap food’ that the supermarkets peddle also comes at a very high price to taxpayers, small manufacturers, small farmers and the environment," said a spokesman.
" We deserve affordable food, yes, but also healthy food, healthy communities, healthy small businesses and a healthy countryside.
"Despite ‘locally-produced food’ being the latest supermarket buzzwords, finding local food in supermarkets is unusual. Even if it is labelled ‘local’ it still likely to have travelled the length and breadth of the country before reaching the nearest supermarket to the place where it was produced.
"This is because supermarkets are designed with centralised distribution in mind and stores simply do not have the infrastructure to purchase and sell locally. Industrially produced food covers an excessive number of miles before it reaches the shelves."
He added: "To provide customers with the huge variety of inexpensive food that they promise, supermarkets ruthlessly exploit their effective monopoly as the biggest buyers of food.
"They can dictate how, where, when and for how much their food is produced, packaged, stored and delivered.
"This is monitored by a sophisticated system of specifications and tight managerial control, including direct contracts with selected farmers rather than traditional competitive markets and the use of favoured slaughterhouses, processing and packing companies.
"Producers are merely assembly-line workers producing standardised products designed by technicians.
"Supermarkets employ researchers to discover precisely what the average cost of production is for a particular crop worldwide, then conduct blind auctions over the internet, buying only when the price has reached the lowest level.
"Farmers do not know what price has been tendered by other producers and this forces them to offer their produce at a low price to ensure a sale.
"Producers of perishable foods are especially vulnerable.
"Only multinational food corporations and companies with successful brands have any leverage with the big suppliers.’’
He said that beside the health scares associated with factory farming and food handling, supermarkets promote unhealthy food which can lead to diet-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diet-related cancers, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, dental problems and vitamin and iron deficiencies.
Despite all this and despite the fact that we like the idea of, and pay lip service to, supporting small businesses, supermarket business volume exposes the lie.
This is where the majority of us shop.
Where are the supermarkets in Huddersfield
ALDI: The first Huddersfield store opened last year at Aspley, the second this year on Beck Lane Industrial Estate off St John’s Road. A latecomer to supermarket wars, Aldi first appeared in the UK in 1990 and now has 300 stores.
ASDA: The Leeds-based Asquith chain of three supermarkets and Associated Dairies united to form Asquith and Dairies or Asda, in 1965. Its Kirklees stores are at Brackenhall and in Dewsbury, but its plan for a £40m store in Chapel Hill, Huddersfield, has just been unveiled.
CO-OP: It’s generally accepted that the first successful Co-op was the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in 1844, but Skelmanthorpe Industrial Co-operative Provident Society predates that by 10 years. Golcar, Meltham and Wooldale Co-ops were also early starters. The Co-op movement is defined as a ‘business organisation owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit’, a distinction that still separates the Co-op from its supermarket rivals. Co-op’s stores include ones at Marsh, Marsden, Lepton, Deighton, Golcar and Fenay Bridge.
HILLARDS: Started life as Lion Stores in Liversedge, a family business that was soon opening stores all over Kirklees. Their biggest venture was a store at Viaduct Street in Huddersfield, built after much opposition from town centre traders in 1978 and taken over by Tesco in 1986.
LIDL: Founded in Germany in the 1930s, it opened its first discount store in 1973 and now has 7,000 stores in 17 countries. It has stores in Castlegate and Aspley.
LODGES: Built up as a family business, brothers Frank and Albert starting a stall at Marsden market in 1921. Their first successful store was in Nelson, Lancashire. In the 1960s and 1970s they opened stores in Waterloo, Marsh, Meltham, Crosland Moor, Lepton, John William Street in Huddersfield, then Honley and Holmfirth in 1975. Following a management buyout in 1991, the chain of stores was bought by CRS Retail in 1995. Massive objections to a large store on the former Clough Mill site in Birkby finally went ahead in 1975 amid worries that town centre businesses would be damaged. Bought out by Asda in 1980 who moved to Brackenhall in 1993.
MORRISONS: Again a family firm, founded by William Morrison. Bradford-based, it opened its first Kirklees store in Heckmondwike in 1987 and in 1993 negotiated successfully for a super-site at Waterloo. It also has a large store in Station Street, Meltham, which it took over from Safeways.
SOMERFIELD: Stores in Milnsbridge and Elland, but the Milnsbridge store closes this weekend after being sold to Aldi.
SAINSBURY’S: Stores at Shorehead, and at Market Street in Huddersfield town centre with another big store in Brighouse. Founded by the Sainsbury family in London in 1869, it launched into self-service supermarkets in the 1950s. Complacency in the 1990s knocked it into third place in the superstore ranks.
TESCO: Founded by eastender Jack Cohen in 1919, Tesco took off in the early 1980s, buying out opposition including the Hillards chain in this area in 1986. It has stores in Viaduct Street, Huddersfield and at Dalton, Brighouse and Marsh and plans to build a megastore on Southgate.