Store big guns set to do battle

Netto store in Marus Bridge, Wigan
Netto store in Marus Bridge, Wigan
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STORE wars have broken out again in Wigan.

Asda has thrown down a direct challenge to its major rivals by announcing it is taking over the Netto stores on Worthington Way, Marus Bridge and Ladies Lane, Hindley.

This will put it in direct competition with both Sainsbury at the former and Tesco at the latter.

New jobs will be created in the process, while the Netto store on Templeton Lane, Platt Bridge is to become an Iceland.

Subject to a final Office of Fair Trading (OFT) approval, Asda is hoping to start work on its two sites this summer with a proposed opening date of early next year.

The new Asda stores will trade under the Asda Supermarkets banner, which are smaller in size than the hypermarket in Newtown, and will average 8,000sq ft in size.

Bosses say it will sell more than five times the amount of stock of Netto.

With it being placed under the “supermarket” brand, it won’t be a 24-hour store but will offer a full breadth of Asda’s own label food ranges, including Smart Price, Chosen By You, Extra Special, Good For You, Free From and Organics.

Although the home and leisure, and George clothing products won’t be available in store, customers will still be able to order them online to collect them.

The supermarket giants have confirmed that all current Netto staff will be kept on and around 10 new positions could be made available, including shift leader positions, which will provide workers with the opportunity to progress towards management positions.

The takeover is a direct challenge to rival Sainsburys which has recently spent big money revamping the Marus Bridge store just across the road. Tesco, in Hindley’s Cross Street, will also face a bigger challenge to its middle-market domination, Netto being a budget competitor.

Judith McKenna, Asda chief financial officer, who led the deal said: “The good news for shoppers in this part of the world is that there’ll be no premium to shop in one of our smaller stores. We’ll charge the same low prices you’ll find in any of our stores.

“Today is another key day in our plan to bring Asda to more customers in many new communities across the North West and Wales. We’re delighted that we’re one step closer to welcoming hundreds of local Netto colleagues into Asda, and look forward to welcoming many more in 2011.”

The announcement is part of Asda’s process of buying UK Netto stores. Owner Walmart plans to create 7,500 new jobs across the UK in 2011.

Following Asda’s initial announcement in May that it intended to purchase Netto’s stores in the UK, the OFT asked Asda to agree purchasers for 47 stores across the UK, including a number of stores it had to identify a buyer for, before the OFT would move to the next stage of its process.

Asda has now agreed purchasers for all those “buyer up front” stores, and as a result, the Netto store in Platt Bridge will now become an Iceland.