Tesco UK CEO Richard Brasher has today claimed that “the facts” show the people of Stokes Croft do support the supermarket’s presence in the community despite violent protests taking place outside the new store last week.
On Thursday night police made a number of arrests in the bohemian part of Bristol after anti-Tesco campaigners caused damage to the Tesco Express outlet in the area.
Some police were injured in the protests after officers raided a site opposite the Tesco, which had been occupied by squatters.
Local groups have opposed the store and believe its opening earlier this month will have a negative impact on independent businesses in the region, but Brasher has defended the grocer’s arrival and criticised the violent protests.
In a column for The Times newspaper today, he said: “The claim that the Stokes Croft community does not support our store isn’t backed by the facts.
“Thousands voted with their feet during a successful first week, and local businesses tell us they are glad that it has opened. Thursday night’s events should not obscure this.”
He also noted that other firms in the vicinity were affected by the trouble and countered the argument that this was a community’s war against one store.
“What we saw on Thursday was violence in search of an agenda,” he commented.
“Other local businesses were victims too. This was violence against the local community, not for it.”
The damage has forced the Tesco Express to temporarily close, but there are signs that those who work at the store are already planning their return to work - business as usual, if you like.
Quoting the Deputy Manager “Natalie” in today’s newspaper column, Brasher said: “The staff are shaken. But I’m proud of how positive they are about coming back to work.
“We will pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and get on with it.”