Retailers hit back over BBC claims

THE British Retail Consortium (BRC) has branded a withering attack on supermarket expansion broadcast on the BBC’s Panorama last night as “misleading”.

Programme makers indicate that the UK’s major grocers are growing more quickly than ever, suggesting that one of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons effectively gets planning permission for a new store “every working day of the year”.

But BRC director general Stephen Robertson said that it was “ridiculous to portray healthy business growth as something sinister” and welcomed the jobs their expansion had brought.

BBC research suggests that campaigners are concerned for the health of local high streets, and reports that planning permission for 577 UK supermarkets was approved in the past two years, with at least 480 of these developments by the so-called Big Four.

Sainsbury’s has dramatically increased its floor space this year.

But the BRC has figures from retail research organisation Verdict, which show that overall grocery retail floor space has increased relatively slowly over the last 10 years at between one and two per cent every 12 months.

“Supermarkets should be praised for the contribution they make to jobs, the economy and local communities, and the figures do not include closures,” Robertson added.