Friday, September 02, 2005

All change for Gibraltar’s supermarkets

Gibraltar’s food shopping is set for major changes it emerged yesterday as speculation again rose that Morrisons (Safeway to most) is seeking to sell its Gibraltar operation for a neat £30m.

It appears that the Spanish chain Mercadona has been sounding out the opportunity to move in, as has the French chain Carrefour. Morrisons declined to comment on any aspect of their plans.

Local business and the Government have been keen to try and keep a British supermarket chain operating for both cultural and business reasons.

But good news for those who want to keep eating British, the latest Gazette confirms that the refurbished former Main Street Check-Out store will be a Marks and Spencer food store adjoining the clothes store. It will be lisensed to sell the well known pre-packed meals through to fish, meat, game, fresh foods and the like.

Meanwhile, in Britain supermarket giant Tesco, also mooted as a possible taker for the Gibraltar store, continued its expansion with a deal today for 30 petrol station sites operated by Safeway owner Morrisons.

The group, which faced a call from Asda owner Wal-Mart last week for an inquiry into its 30.5% share of the overall grocery market, will add the former BP-Safeway branded outlets to its Express format.

It said the proposed deal - for an undisclosed price -consolidated its 6% share of the convenience store market, which has become the new battleground for supermarkets because of restrictions on building larger shops.

While the sale is subject to Office of Fair Trading clearance, convenience stores are treated separately from the main supermarket sector.

Tesco described the market for small stores as a “fragmented market’’ with more than 50,000 sites and a value of around £24 billion. It has 550 Express sites. Tesco said:

“The stores are complementary to Tesco’s existing Express network and will bring the Tesco shopping experience to more local neighbourhoods across the country."

The filling stations and convenience stores - valued at £55.3 million - were acquired by Safeway owner Morrisons in April, following the dissolution of a joint venture between BP and Safeway.

* The outcome of a strike ballot among thousands of workers at supermarket chain Morrisons in Britain , which had been due yesterday, has been delayed until mid-September. Members of the GMB and the Transport and General Workers Union have been voting on whether to stage industrial action in a row over consultation. The GMB said a number of technicalities had meant that the ballot result was now expected on September 15.

Related Articles:

11 August 2005 - Gibraltar Safeway still up for sale, says Morrison

07 June 2005 - Morrisons moves…

27 May 2005 - Gibraltar's Safeway up For Sale

22 April 2005 - Morrisons consider bid for Gibraltar Safeway store - Confirmed

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