This morning (Thursday 15th October 2015), Tesco announced that it is selling 14 former supermarket sites to a property developer.
The move suggests that building homes is more profitable than creating shops, especially in some parts of the country.
Additionally, it appears that the supermarket trend of land banking – buying up large sections of land for potential retail development – has come to an end.
Tesco to Sell 14 Sites to Property Developer
It is expected that other supermarkets will follow in Tesco’s footsteps, by releasing land for housing and smaller retail projects. This must be good news to the Government, which is keen to build lots more homes.
Chief Financial Officer of Tesco, Alan Stewart, explains how many homes could be built: “It certainly will be thousands, I think it will depend on council by council, site by site exactly what the development turns out to be.”
It is believed that up to 10,000 homes could be built on the sites Tesco has sold across the South East of England.
Stewart continues: “These sites were all bought because we intended to put a store [in] and then develop residential around them.
“We wanted to ensure that we would work with the communities and the council in order to develop and build housing and the other projects as quickly as possible, and in a way that is sympathetic to the community.”
The 14 sites are part of the 49 locations that Tesco is vacating, announced earlier this year.
The remaining spots remain mostly unsold and derelict, leading to criticism from local MPs, particularly Pat McFadden of Wolverhampton South East, who believes the local community has been let down.
When asked if he sympathises with opponents, Stewart responds: “Of course, and I think it’s in these sort of sites and these communities [that] it’s very difficult. These were difficult decisions we made.
“They weren’t made without a lot of contemplation, a lot of thought, and we’ll do everything we can to try to get the developments that were expected in these areas, developed as quickly as possible.”1
It is unknown whether sites in the north of England will be sold as easily as lucrative spots in the south.
At present, there is no timeline for selling the remaining sites, which are currently unused.