Loughborough Junction Blog: Every little helps?

Tesco Express opens in Loughbrough Junction on Friday. Picture by Craig Murphy, used under Creative Commons
Tesco Express opens in Loughborough Junction on Friday. Picture by Craig Murphy, used under Creative Commons

On the eve of the opening of Tesco Express in Coldharbour Lane, LJ blogger Daniel Mazliah looks at the rise, and rise, of convenience supermarkets in the Junction.

Tesco and Sainsbury’s are both opening stores in Loughborough Junction, practically opposite each other in two disused pubs on Coldharbour Lane.

Local groups and the council are busy working on a Master Plan for the area. But the arrival of the supermarket giants could have a much more immediate impact.

The big question is will it be the moment that Loughborough Junction becomes ‘up and coming’? Or does it spell the end for the high street’s independent shops?

I walked past Tesco. Shop-fitters are working hard to get it ready for Friday’s big opening – but someone’s thrown paint across the doors.

Tesco must be used to a backlash. Good PR is about getting your arguments in first. A few days earlier a press release arrived at the Brixton Blog celebrating 18 new jobs.

Today a second release: Tesco donates to local disability charity.

Here’s new shop manager Liam Willitts: “In this time of economic uncertainty, it is great that we are able to create jobs for our local community and help get people back into work.”

Sainsbury’s is also on the charm-offensive. Emma Garner from their property team gave me this message for residents:

“All our stores play an active role in the communities they serve and our Loughborough Junction shop will look to support local charities through our Charity of the Year scheme and schools through our Active kids programme.

New jobs, greater grocery choice, charity donations, community schemes: what could be bad?

MASTERPLAN: An artist's impression of what Loughborough Junction could look like.
Residents are working on a masterplan for Loughborough Junction, but will it be too late?

Down the road is Super Savers – a seven-days-a-week, 24-hour convenience store that sells, well, pretty much everything. Manager Mr Ali says they’ve been there for 30 years. I probably go in once a day.

But rents have gone up on the high street and Mr Ali fears this could be the final nail in the coffin for some of the local shops.

“It’s bad for local business. I’m worried about Tesco and Sainsbury’s. All our customers are saying they will keep coming here. We’re cheaper than Sainsbury’s. But let’s see what happens.”

You don’t have to Google very far to find tales of loss-leading milk and other tactics to worry independent shops.

Chandra Sharma, chairman of the Federation of Small Business’ South East London Branch, explains that ‘struggling’ local shops will be worried that “customers will be driven into the hands of large retailers.”

But while it’s true that some residents I’ve spoken to are looking forward to buying the kind of products that only supermarkets stock (sour cream and organic baby food have been mentioned), just as many profess strong ties to the current crop of local shops.

Resident and teacher Paul Hinchliffe said: “I’m not sure it will change the high street in Loughborough Junction for the better. I can already buy most things I need from the existing shops. If it’s the beginning of lots of new investment in the area then that’s great but no one will guarantee that it will be.”

Perhaps there is hope for the likes of Super Savers. And as Paul suggests, maybe the prospect that the supermarkets could spark the long-awaited wider regeneration could help soften people’s views of Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Finally I spoke to local councillor Carol Boucher who said: “Local neighbourhoods, within cities, require a mix of retail outlets to service a wide range of needs, particularly in the current economic climate. To this end, the potential to incorporate both ‘high street’ names alongside local independent outlets should help to develop Loughborough Junction as a town centre for all its residents.”


  1. Tom, Im not sure which bit of the Junction has not changed much. Take a look at this photo on Coldharbour Lane http://bit.ly/1CJTHEH (taken in 2006) to remind yourself where it has come from. Bit by bit the junction has been transforming itself from a run down nowhere place with drug dealers on every corner to a very well positioned and quiet place to live – that’s its advantage, it’s like a village between two big towns. It has a long way still to go, however, a number of new businesses opening are adding to the areas mix including the turtle coffee shop, the bike shop and most recently the co-op. For the first time, you don’t need to go to the supermarkets as most things are now at the end of the road. I find I now spend more in Loughborough Junction as I don’t need to shop elsewhere. Why the ‘shops’ opposite the Green Man remain boarded up I don’t know – do they not pay rates? With more investment planned, Loughborough Junction can only become a better place to live.


  2. Does anyone know when the Sainsbury’s local is going to be opened? seems as though it has been in development for quite a while!

  3. Brixton blog…you always write your articles in a way that seems to look down at any sort of investment in the local area. I’ve lived in Brixton for the majority of my life and seen the bad times. It’s about time we had improvements and investment in the area. Brixton is made up of a diverse mix of people and I think you’ll find that there are more people than you think who support these changes for the better. Could you be more objective in your reporting.

  4. I’ve lived in the area since 1964 and in all those years I’ve never seen the local shops given free rents like the new shops and restaurants for the bourgeoisie down in brixton market. Maybe if that happened they could gentrify too, then maybe you new house holders would be happy and stop calling us real locals “sub human drug dealers and shiftless junkie beggars”. One Love…..its ignorance that breeds contempt…..

  5. Looking forward to Sainsburys Local opening so I can do most of my grocery shopping on my doorstep. Something I couldn’t do before Tesco arrived. The other convenience stores didn’t have the range and most of them look like they’re closed down anyway from the outside. Bring on the big brands coming to the Junction. It’s just scruffy and doesn’t offer much so hopefully this will be the start of a change as LJ could be so much better.

  6. i find it very strange why anyone would think having brand shops opening is a bad thing. The independant shops arent running a charity, the arrival of tescos and sainsburys in April will allow people to but most of there weekly shop rather than getting in a car and going to Brixton and camberwell as its right at the intersection.

    I imagine the only one not happy may well be the sub human drug dealers and shiftless junkie beggars that fear they maybe be swept away by a gentrification of the area.

    • excuse me.. i am a hard working law-abiding tax payer.. what are you, some kind of fascist.. behave yourself…. you can`t even put your own name… you probably only lived round here five minutes

  7. I borrowed 10 pounds today from the register at my local corner shop because, for whatever reason, I was in a squeeze and couldn’t access my funds.

    That’s something places like Tesco will never do obviously — they’ll never be the guys at the corner store, they will always be a faceless corporation. There are many reasons people don’t welcome Tescos and that’s just one, crushing the little guys.

    I’m not sure the fact that they have moved to the area proves that the area is becoming any better (it is a dump), I think it just means Tesco is, unfortunately, EVERYWHERE. Even in the no-man’s-land that is LJ. The only bright side is that if they fail it will be nothing new to that area.

    Apparently someone agrees with me and is a little more passionate, as they already have two broken windows at the shop.

  8. I used to drink in the warrior pub, a nice quiet pint with their own brewery in the back! great pub… then when mean fiddler took it over turned into a music venue it was even better!! shame it was too rough around there at the time they could not maintain it for long!
    To be honest tesco is pretty lame really, they are always changing there prices, the express are quite expensive really and customer service is not so great.. also always check what you spend their computers tills are sometimes wrong, on a number occasions i have had to insist they check the receipt because they have over charge me and they really don`t want to believe there computers are wrong!!
    i must admit it goes the other way sometimes and under charge!!
    anyway it`s a shame we are loosing another potential music venue, community space for the likes of a another supermarket, us old blokes not got many places to go now! especially with the fascist smoking ban! happy shopping

  9. I’m looking forward to being able to buy a salmon fillet on the doorstep but Tesco or Sainsbury’s won’t “offer a far better range” than Supersavers who sell virtually everything. I took a good look around it at the weekend and the range is extensive.

  10. I’ve lived in Loughborough Junction since 1984 – and to be honest, it hasn’t changed much and most of the changes haven’t been that good – both those pubs closed down years ago, and the ‘junction’ isn’t so much a high street as a ‘nowhere-land’ between Brixton and Camberwell, what few shops there are serving a population probably buying their main shop elsewhere, and just using them for the odd pint of milk.

    At high prices … while super saver does offer reasonable prices and range, Sunstar can only survive because it’s the only one there, offering very basic goods at eye-watering prices justified only by 24 hour opening. It’s otherwise a dirty little shop with little to recommend it. I doubt it’ll survive more than a year once the competition is up and running.

    Yes, people always moan when the big boys turn up. But the big boys will offer a far better range, better quality, at lower prices. That’s what they do. And the fact that they’re prepared to take the risk in an area as depressed as this one is, I’m afraid, good news. It’ll persuade others that it might just be worth opening something half decent round here. Got to be better than just watching that Futon workshop (closed for decades) quietly rotting away….

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