Buckinghamshire retailer Paul Fisher, whose store in Gerrards Cross has been recognised for its customer service excellence, claims that a recently-opened Tesco superstore across the road is trying to squeeze him out of the market by “flooding” the store with unusual numbers of customer service staff.
The Tesco store employs a team of customer service representatives who wear red sashes saying ‘extra help’, even at off-peak times. The store manager was brought in from Cornwall due to her excellence at community stores and local sourcing, according to Paul.
He told C-Store: “The facts speak for themselves. They are flooding the floor with staff to put us out of business, in order to have control of the Gerrards Cross market.”
Mary Portas, who is conducting a review of the high street, recently said Gerrards Cross was “one of the best Tesco stores” she had ever experienced.
However, a spokeswoman from Tesco denied the firm was using any special tactics and said there was “nothing different or new” about the customer services strategy there.
Fisher’s won best customer service award at this year’s Convenience Retail Awards (CRA), but sales have fallen by 30% since the superstore opened last November. A number of independent shops in the affluent commuter town have already closed down.
A new 11,500sq ft Waitrose store is due to open next year, adding to the Tesco and nearby M&S Simply Food.
Between 1997 - when the local Budgens closed - and 2006 there was just 5,000sq ft of food retail in Gerrards Cross, he said. When Waitrose opens next year, there will be 55,000 sq ft.
The Gerrards Cross Tesco has been mired in controversy since its initial proposal in 1996.
Two years after construction began in 2003 the tunnel underneath the site collapsed, disrupting the rail service.