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What would Tesco Metro closures mean for East Anglia?

PUBLISHED: 15:11 06 August 2019 | UPDATED: 09:39 07 August 2019

Experts have said Tesco�s decision to cut around 4,500 jobs is down to changing consumer habits. Photo: Archant.

Experts have said Tesco�s decision to cut around 4,500 jobs is down to changing consumer habits. Photo: Archant.

Archant

The closure of Tesco Metro stores across East Anglia could trigger a domino effect across the region's towns and high streets, experts have warned.

Tesco Metro, London Road North in Lowestoft. Picture: Greta LevyTesco Metro, London Road North in Lowestoft. Picture: Greta Levy

On Monday, the UK's biggest supermarket revealed plans to cuts as many as 4,500 staff in 153 of its Metro stores.

MORE: Tesco stores in East Anglia could close

The announcement prompted fears East Anglia could be set to lose yet more of the convenience stores.

Lowestoft's town centre has already been dealt a blow following the news it would be losing its Tesco Metro last week.

And while more closures could follow, experts say Tesco's decision should come as no surprise.

Chris Scargill, partner of Norfolk chartered accountants and business advisers MHA Larking Gowen. Photo David Garrad.Chris Scargill, partner of Norfolk chartered accountants and business advisers MHA Larking Gowen. Photo David Garrad.

"It's not a surprise but is worrying for the region's small towns and high streets," said Chris Scargill, partner of Norfolk chartered accountants and business advisers MHA Larking Gowen.

"I think the speed of the change is surprising and the number of people losing their job.

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"Consumer habits are changing, there is more instant decision making. Tesco said 70% of their customers are buying for the day on the day - the Metro is designed for a weekly shop."

R3 Eastern Chairman Mark Upton. Picture: R3R3 Eastern Chairman Mark Upton. Picture: R3

Mr Scargill added: "I think it will be the start of a domino effect. A town centre has to be a place where people want to go.

"The towns and high streets need to identify a creative brand for themselves. What we should be encouraging is new businesses coming into the towns offering something different to what is already on offer."

Mark Upton, partner at East Anglian chartered accountants Ensors and chairman of insolvency body R3 Eastern, said changing consumer habits were behind the cuts.

"It does seem to be that customers, rather than using them for their weekly shop, are just nipping in for their daily shop," he said.

Mr Upton said the challenges faced by Tesco Metro stores is mirrored across the high street as shops struggle to compete with online offerings.

"It's a constant threat", he added.

The chairman also warned cutting shop floor staff could become a "complete turn-off" for shoppers if it begins to have an adverse effect of the level of customer service.

"It's one of the easier ways of increasing profitability. As long as the customer experience isn't massively reduced they can generally get away with it."

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