Fears about the future of North End after Sainsbury's announces Portsmouth store closure

TRADERS have voiced their concerns about the state of a high street, after a national supermarket announced it would be pulling out of the area.

Sainsburys in London Road, North End, will close next month. Picture: Google Maps
Sainsburys in London Road, North End, will close next month. Picture: Google Maps

Adding to the empty units already there, independent traders are concerned the area is going backwards.

Steve White, manager of butchers John Wildman and Sons, said: ‘It’s a shame because it’s such a nice shop and always looks busy.

‘Things aren’t going great as it is. Having empty shops is a bad look and there’s lots of units like that now.

‘There was a time when North End was filling up again, but it’s going back to how it used to be.

‘I reckon the additions of Lidl, B&M and Smyths at Ocean Retail Park nearby is going to hurt us as well.’

Mark Hardwick, owner of Solent Cables, added: ‘Losing Sainsbury’s is definitely going to have an impact on the rest of us.

‘North End certainly isn’t the same place it was 10 years ago, but perhaps that’s a sign of the times.’

The Sainsbury’s store was an Odeon cinema, which closed in 2008 and was then occupied by OJ’s Discounts.

When Sainsbury’s announced in April 2012 it would be moving into London Road, councillors welcomed it as a major part of plans to redevelop North End.

But ward councillor for Nelson, Cllr Jason Fazackarley, believes the closure won’t lead to a mass exodus.

He said: ‘Life in the retail sector is tough, and there has been a lot of competition since the arrival of Lidl and Aldi.

‘The loss of any business is a setback to North End, and clearly we will want to plug the gap as quickly as possible.

‘But I don't think this will start a general decline; it’s terrible for the workforce but this certainly seems like an individual business case.'

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s said: ‘Our Portsmouth London Road Local is closing soon. We updated colleagues on our plans earlier this year and everyone has been offered the opportunity to redeploy to other roles in the area.’