Tesco Scaling back on Out of Town Hypermarkets – Could Release £1bn landbank


After two decades of aggressively buying up land and building stores, the company is understood to be keen to scale back on opening new, large, out-of-town hypermarkets in favour of using the capital to invest in its existing store portfolio and expand its Express network of convenience shops….

The move by Tesco to concentrate on its smaller shops follows its disastrous profit warning that it issued in January, the first in more than 20 years, and which wiped £5bn off its share price. At the time Mr Clarke said: “Do you need to build large hypermarkets in the UK when the internet is taking so much growth in electrical, in clothing, in general merchandise?” He admitted that large hypermarkets were a “less potent force” than they had previously been.

Dalton Philips, the chief executive of rival Morrisons, said supermarkets with a portfolio of large stores had a “property albatross around their necks”.

Analysts, however, warned that though Tesco should initially save money by scaling back its investment in large stores, it would have a long-term problem on its hands.

Jonathan Pritchard, analyst at Oriel Securities, said: “What are they going to do with all that land? Some of it can be reverted to residential property, but it has more than £1bn-worth of property in its landbank.”

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2007-8, Tesco took advantage of a collapse in property prices to spend more than £2bn a year on buying up land and building stores.

A decade ago, the average out-of-town supermarket was about 35,000 sq ft. It is now closer to 50,000 sq ft, with Tesco Extra stores on average hitting 71,127 sq ft, according to analysis by Goldman Sachs.

Analysts at JP Morgan calculate that Tesco could save £650m a year from scaling back its expansion programme.

Mapping Da Hood

Quite the most interesting example of GIS I have seen in a long time.

Livehoods maps clusters of people/places by the places people go to through monitoring social media, so for example in London it would show a Hoxton Crew habbing at White Cube etc. etc.

Of course in many hoods there is no place to hang out at all and thats the problem, and it will only show up hipsters with phones with geolocation, not chavs with Nokias

But it does show as in this example here the famous tribalism of New York.

There is some real important research here.

Our Hypothesis

The hypothesis underlying our work is that the character of an urban area is defined not just by the the types of places found there, but also by the people that make the area part of their daily routine. To explore this hypothesis, given data from over 18 million foursquarecheck-ins, we introduce a model that groups nearby venues into areas based on patterns in the set of people that check-in to them. By examining patterns in these check-ins, we can learn about the different areas that comprise the city, allowing us to study the social dynamics, structure, and character of cities on a large scale.

We call the resulting areas Livehoods, reflecting the dynamic nature of activity patterns in the lives of city inhabitants. Like neighborhoods, Livehoods are a representation of the organizational structure of the city. However, Livehoods are different from neighborhoods. They give us an on-the-ground view of a city’s structure, helping us reconceptualize the dynamics of a city based on the way people actually use it.

With Livehoods, we can investigate and explore the factors that come together to shape the social dynamics of a city, including municipal borders, demographics, economic development, resources, geography, and architecture. We think Livehoods are useful for city governments, local organizations, businesses, and anyone looking to learn more about a city. If you have an idea of how Livehoods might be helpful to you or your city, tell us about it.

First #NPPF impact on Major Case- Asda withdraw ‘prematurity’ appeal in Kidderminster

Asda have withdrawn an appeal against non-determination in Wyre Forest citing the NPPF.

The case concerns an out of centre site at Churchfields.  The LPA preferred a site of the former leisure centre at Bromsgrove Street in the town centre with Churchfields being redeveloped through housing led schemes.

Why did they withdraw. after all town centre first (of sorts) was in the draft and certainly is in the final?

The answer appears to lie in the draft Central Kidderminster Area Action Plan, about to go on submission, where retail sites are of course central.

Given the beefier prematurity test in annex 1 of the NPPF Asda would have been foolish to proceed, especially in the face of a bold and needed plan.

I have to say given the damage inflicted on Kidderminster in the past – always a favourite in Private Eye – and its Kansas City like domination by parking lots, no town centre deserves more a proper plan.

Kidderminster used to look like this

Now the same place - the Bull Ring - looks like this. The APP proposes redevelopment - please de culvert the river Stour here

Bull Ring as proposed in AAP, without Comedy policeman directing traffic in a dustbin

From the APP - Since when did a modest town need a 5ha traffic circus - make it a two way question mark junction and create a 2 1/2 ha development site instead?

Boris Stumbles into a Giant Elephant Trap of his Own Making – Londonist

Whatever you think of Boris’s politics he is never less than hilarious.  No less when it comes to consistency and logic – pah piffle paffle.  Such as in over the curious case of the elephant expense – relating to the Sultans Elephant event, probably the best piece of public art and street theatre London has ever seen.

Londonist takes up the story

Today’s Times (paywall, p.17 of the dead tree edition) reports that Mr Johnson has condemned Mr Livingstone for “‘squandering’ money on ‘hair brained schemes’”, using information obtained under FOI from the Livingstone years. The Mayor singles out the 2006 performance art piece ‘the Sultan’s Elephant’ — which received a grant of £33,000 — for criticism.

The Times reports: “Mr Johnson said that his office had smashed the culture of waste and profligacy of the previous administration, which included ‘harebrained schemes like £33,000 on an elephant parade’.”

Be in no doubt, The Sultan’s Elephant was awesome, and £33,000 is 0.4 pence per Londoner — we think it might be one of the best value bits of public art the city ever saw. But that’s just our opinion. What did Boris think of it?

We suppose when he used it as the front cover of his Culture Strategy three years ago, that was because he didn’t like it, and wanted to draw attention to bad examples of public waste?

Boris hates this, so put it on the front of his Culture Strategy in 2009.

And, we guess, he was criticising it when he told the company that brought it to London that:

“…Artichoke have been responsible for some of the most astonishing and talked about events of the last few years. Artichoke exemplifies Britain’s creativity and ability to shock, surprise and tantalise.”Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

And, just to be clear, he really thought it was terrible:

“Who can forget the brilliance of the Sultan’s Elephant – it seemed to weave a magical spell as it brought central London to a standstill, as thousands of strangers came together, bewitched by its slow parade”.Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

So that’s sorted — he thought it was brilliant in 2009, but in 2012 it’s a shameful waste of money…

Boris — as you know from you Cable Car, Bus, and Cycle Schemes, all of which you said would cost us nothing, all of which have cost us considerably more than £33,000 (around 200 times that actually) — awesome things don’t come cheap. So lay off the elephant; if given the chance we’d give it our vote.#

Time to sound the retreat on this one Boris.


Historic Towns Forum on ‘Post Paternalistic’ Garden City Principles #NPPF

From the just released HTF commentary on the final NPPF.

The passing reference to “following the principles of garden cities” in the NPPF (para 52) is intriguing, especially as the Prime Minister, also referred to garden cities in his recent speech on the nation’s infrastructure.   It is good to see the Government recognising the value of historic places.  There are lots of others too, created with enlightened private investment – such as Saltaire, Bournville, New Lanark, Port Sunlight, New Earswick. The communities in these places continue to prize and protect their historic character and the quality of life to which it contributes.  The NPPF doesn’t enlarge on what principles it considers still relevant, but the HTF is ready to help identify and redefine these for the post–paternalism Twenty-first Century.

The Garden Cities Movement – though inspired by each of these philanthropic settlements and part financed by the like of Lever & Cadbury – was of course post philanthropic because its model was that the Garden City owner would not be a company and that it would not be a single owner factory town.  Ultimately the residents would own the land and control the company with all residents being grated shares.  Large property companies wanting to get in on the Garden City act need to recognise that in their proposed financial models.

The Buzz at #inetberlin – The First Days Videos – Better decisions

There was a time was neo-classical economics was so dominant that groups of economists and other that held different views gathered in some obscurity and spent the time at conferences in monty python type factional arguments between the italians and the rest (what did Sraffa ever do for us!).  Post keysnisanism and heterodox economics were almost career destroying.

But things have changed and perhaps no more demonstrated than by the founding of The Institue for New Economic Thinking by George Soros and the huge buzz generated by the Inet Berlin conference, packed out and with many following on the internet.  The theme of the conference – Paradigm Lost – sums it up.  Illusions have been shattered by the GFC and there has been gathering momentum – summed up by the Krugman/Keen blog battle that neo-classical economics is on the back foot and a new paradigm is emerging.

The first days talks are here

By all accounts from the conference the highlight was Gerd Gigerenzer’s talk.  As you might guess from the title of this blog and the many posts on decision theory on here im a huge fan of his work.  His work is the overlap between economics and decisions.  Its a must watch both for planners and economists.