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Concern at Belsize Park Budgens over Tesco merger

PUBLISHED: 13:54 27 January 2017 | UPDATED: 12:40 30 January 2017

Tom Conti and Andrew Thornton outside Thornton's Budgens in Haverstock Hill

Tom Conti and Andrew Thornton outside Thornton's Budgens in Haverstock Hill

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The owner of a popular Budgens store in Belsize Park has spoken of his shock after news today that supermarket giant Tesco has merged with the company that owns the Budgens brand.

Tesco has announced a merger with Booker, which owns the Budgens brand this morning.      Picture: PA Images. Rui VieraTesco has announced a merger with Booker, which owns the Budgens brand this morning. Picture: PA Images. Rui Viera

Andrew Thornton, who owns the independent Thorntons Budgens, in Haverstock Hill, said of the £3.7bn merger between Tesco and his wholesaler and brand owner Booker: “I am shocked to find this out as historically Tesco have hardly been a friend to independent retailers and communities, and indeed we all fought hard to stop them coming to Belsize Park.

“Whatever happens, be assured that I will fight for what we stand for, for retaining our independence and for continuing to support our amazing community here in Belsize Park.”

“Thanks to you all for your ongoing support!

In an announcement this morning, Tesco said the agreement wwould create “the UK’s leading food business” and deliver significant efficiency savings for the combined group.

Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said: “Tesco has made significant progress in turning around our UK retail business.

“This merger with Booker will further enhance Tesco’s growth prospects by creating the UK’s leading food business with combined expertise in retail, wholesale, supply chain and digital.

“Wherever food is prepared and eaten - ‘in home’ or ‘out of home’ - we will meet this opportunity with the widest choice and best service available.”

As reported in the Ham&High, Mr Thornton won the support of thousands of protesters including actor Tom Conti and stars Emma Thompson and Janet Suzman, in a battle to stop Tesco opening in Belsize Park in 2015.

A petition against the supermarket giant opening on the site of a former HSBC bank reached over 2,000 signatures.

The campaign ended in victory in May 2015 when Tesco announced it was withdrawing from the site.

Mr Thornton is seen locally as a champion of independent retailers for his involvement and support for the community, environmental campaigns and promoting local suppliers and produce.

Actor Tom Conti, who campaigned against Tesco opening in Belsize Park said: “It is horrifying news. It’s terrible pay back after our campaign.

“The fear is that Tesco will reduce the quality of the food and raise the prices. Budgens in Belsize Park is known for its high quality and great range of food.”

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