A Kent retailer is campaigning to prevent Asda from sharing a site occupied by struggling DIY chain B&Q, in another example of the recently identified ‘hermit crab’ syndrome.

Amit Patel of Belvedere News Food & Wine said the plans to divide the existing B&Q store and create a 36,000sq ft Asda outlet would force him to close. He is canvassing the support of his local MP, councillors and small retailers, and has drafted a petition to oppose the plans.

The proposal by B&Q and Asda is a variation on a trend in which grocery multiples such as Tesco and Asda have snapped up empty units vacated by struggling retailers (Convenience Store, June 24). One retailer described the move as “hermit crab syndrome” whereby the multiples “plant themselves in someone else’s shell”.

A spokesman for Asda said the Belvedere store would create 300 loca jobs and that staff numbers at B&Q would be protected as a result of the link-up. The two companies are in preliminary talks with Bexley Council and plan to submit a planning application. A public consultation closes on August 1.

But Amit said he feared such proposals would be rolled out nationally if proven successful. “Retailers who have too much space will try to gain extra revenue from other businesses.”

He is also concerned about the impact on traffic congestion and pollution.

His local MP, Teresa Pearce, has pledged to speak to the council to ensure local traders are listened to.

Among other ‘hermit crab’ developments, Asda has acquired a number of Focus DIY and Wickes DIY units in the South East, while Tesco trades from the former Focus in Bromley, Kent, and Crowborough, East Sussex.

A spokesman said Asda was looking at a number of flexible formats, but there were no current plans to replicate the Belvedere proposal elsewhere.