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Sainsbury's Morecambe employs 270, but fears for other local jobs remain

John Freeman
Sainsbury's has announced that nearly 300 new jobs have been created in the area as the result of its new Morecambe superstore, but its long term impact on local employment may not be so positive.

Announcing that the opening of the new 40,000 sq ft Sainsbury’s Morecambe store will reduce unemployment in the area after creating 270 new jobs, the company also revealed new colleagues were looking forward to starting their new careers when the store opens on Wednesday 17 November and will feature hot food and pizza counters, salad bar, pharmacy, plus large TU clothing, homeware and entertainment sections.

Sainsbury’s held two recruitment and information days at Lancaster and Morecambe College earlier in the year, which was attended by around 1,800 people. All department managers were on hand to talk about the opportunities of building about a career in the new store.

66-year-old Paul I’Anson is returning to work after retiring from running a dental practice at 60. Having looked for work for the last two years, he has now been recruited as a warehouse operative in the Commercial Team at Sainsbury’s Morecambe.

“I decided to look for a role as I wanted to get back into employment at a great place to work, and Sainsbury’s has given me this wonderful opportunity," Paul said. "I feel valued and it’s very nice to be fulfilling a work role again.”

Sainsbury’s store manager Martin Corban said the store had received a fantastic response to the roles that were on offer. “We filled up the roles available to the people of Morecambe really quickly," he said, "and we’ve recruited a high calibre of colleagues who cannot wait to deliver excellent service to our customers”.

While the new jobs are welcome, here are concerns the new Sainsbury's will have an impact on other local jobs which may negate the immediate benefit of another large employer in the town.

Supermarkets are always keen to stress the employment benefits of store expansion. Back in 2000, Corporate Watch noted a report from the Institute of Labour Research at the University of Essex which showed that new superstores boosted employment in the food retailing sector by 12 per cent between 1983 and 1994. But another report by the National Retail Planning Forum revealed that new food superstores have a net negative impact on retail employment, indicating each new superstore accounts for a loss of 276 full-time employees.

The report indicated that the net impact of 93 superstore openings nationwide would lead to a decline of three per cent in the number of full time jobs - or a loss of 25,000 jobs within three years. The immediate increase in superstore employment, the authors argued, is offset by the more gradual decrease in specialist food retailer employment in the 10 mile zone around the stores.

By contrast, in 2006, the New Economic Forum published research that indicated that
street markets offered better choice on fresh fruit and vegetables than supermarkets at half the price, generated substantial benefits for the local economy and created twice as many jobs per square metre of retail than supermarkets.

Corporate Watch: How Supermarkets Destroy Jobs
Local newspapers are often ecstatic at the news that another supermarket development is on the cards in their town. But would they be so happy if they new the real effect that supermarkets have on jobs in other community-based businesses? Corinna Hawkes and Jacqui Webster investigate.

Impact of Large Food Stores on Market Towns and District Centres 
National Retail Planning Forum 1998. PDF download here

New Economic Forum: Markets create twice as many jobs as supermarkets and food is half the price
22 May 2006

The Guardian: The Price isn't Right (2004)
Supermarkets don't sell cheap food, we just think they do - and they're ruining local economies