Supermarket to remain in the city despite merger plans

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Sainsbury’s has denied claims Wakefield could lose one of its big supermarkets if their proposed merger with the owners of rival chain Asda goes ahead.

A deal between the firm and US giants Walmart was agreed in April and would combine the two brands, though the merger is currently being looked into by the UK’s competitions watchdog.

A senior Wakefield district councillor said at a scrutiny meeting on Monday (June 25) that rules limiting the number of big shops any one business can have in a certain area may see one of city’s supermarkets close.

Sainsbury’s currently has two large stores in and around the city centre - one at Trinity Walk Shopping Centre and another on Ings Road - while Asda has a 24 hour superstore on Asdale Road.

But Sainsbury’s has rejected the claims, having previously said no stores will close anywhere in the UK and no jobs would be lost as a result of the planned move.

Speaking at the meeting, Coun Darren Byford, deputy portfolio holder for regeneration and economic growth, said: “There is a merger at the moment between Sainsbury’s and Walmart. There will be store closures. There’s always a process where they’re not allowed to have too many in one area.

“We have three of those - two Sainsbury’s and an Asda. If it operates as one business I can’t see how that would continue.”

Another councillor, Olivia Rowley, suggested that the growth of supermarkets had hit small businesses in the city centre, adding that she had been reluctant to see one of the Sainsbury’s stores built in the first place.

She added: “In the city centre at the moment we’ve got a supermarket which sells everything to everybody. How can other businesses flourish and prosper in that environment? They sell everything from tyres to wet suits - all the small things that small businesses could have established. If it continues, how can any other shop prosper?”

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s said: “We do not plan to close any Sainsbury’s or Asda stores as a result of the transaction.”