Tesco has moved to counter recent bad publicity by using results of a report it commissioned that suggest its Express format has brought trade back to other local stores.

The study was carried out by Southampton University’s School of Geography and monitored the shopping behaviour and opinions of consumers in four semi-rural communities in Hampshire, which had previously been served by One Stop stores before they were converted to Tesco Express. The findings suggest that the Express stores had taken trade away from out-of-town supermarkets rather than other local independent stores, and in several cases increased trade for other small stores in the area.

Professor Neil Wrigley, who led the research team, commented: “If consumers can access the same quality of fresh food and ranges locally as they do in larger supermarkets, then increasingly it seems they will divert their top-up shopping back into their local neighbourhood. This may have potential benefits for other traders, but more interestingly has considerable significance in the way we shop, with more people walking and cycling to stores.”

However, retailer Trevor Lowe, who runs the Costcutter store adjacent to the first standalone Tesco Express in Southborough, Kent, has slammed the report. He said: “What a load of rubbish. If anything, having an Express on my doorstep has thinned out local trade, not increased it. We are managing to keep our head above water and are battling on, but to say they have helped us is farcical.”

Tesco told the All Party Small Shops Group inquiry that a doubling of its Express c-store estate to 1,200 within 10 years would be “sustainable”.