The much talked about, new Tesco Express opened today, Friday 24th August 2012  on the site of the former ‘Grid Inn’ Public House, 22 Replingham Road.

A ‘photo shoot’ had been arranged outside for 11am and ‘Charity Big Cheque’ waving was going on with musical accompaniment, hugging, big smiles and beaming faces. A dapper looking Phil Ward, Tesco Store Manager wearing his best suit and happy face lined up his gaggle of red shirted employees for the photographer.

There was no evidence of ‘window bricking’ by other local shop owners and inside customers were already shopping and at the till.

There appeared to be a serious number of staff around and with any luck, these were employed from the local Southfields Community and not just ‘bussed in’ from elsewhere.

The store inside looked bright, very clean and well laid out plus the exterior had been kept somewhat ‘in keeping’ with the previous frontage. Possibly anyone being away this past months may not have noticed the Pub had changed until they went inside.

Glancing around adjacent shops, this Tesco Express will have a serous effect on their trade. Flowers, food, wine, and lots more, the Sainsbury Local in Durnsford Road when it opened saw other shops income drop by 60% on the day and it has never recovered.

The day before I dropped in and had a brief word with Phil Ward, who was stripped down to his jeans and T-shirt directing an army of his staff cleaning, stacking shelves and getting ready for the open day. Phil told me “there’s still some work to do but I look forward to people on the Grid coming in to see what we have on offer, many bargains”

Phil also apologised for the disturbance to residents whilst the work has been going on and promised to do his very best to ensure people are not inconvenienced by the process of deliveries, which he will be monitoring and promised to adjust as things progress.

The ‘Grid’ has seen many changes over the years; I can remember no pubs, bars or late night food outlets as recent as the early to mid 1980’s. I recall the first greasy burger take away thingy, now long gone, was where the Cook Pharmacy is located at the top of Replingham Road and the only other late evening take away was the Chinese in Brookwood Road. Things have certainly moved on and will continue to do so like it or not, it is the nature of life.

The best quality and cheapest retailers with good service may well continue to exist. They do survive as Boots and Cooks do although just a short distance of each other. The fruit and veg shop opposite, revered by local shoppers with fresh goods on display, the Fish Pedlar around the corner and butchers and hopefully others will may well endure too.

With Sainsbury Local just around the corner in Wimbledon Park Road and a possible Waitrose on its way, it is inevitable that local shops trade and takings will suffer. I also wonder how long it will be before Tesco make a move on the Old Garage Pub to extend its retail space

Nobody is being forced to use the new Supermarkets on the Grid; people still have the choice ‘at the moment’.

Many will stand, watch and hold their breath, some will have Tesco and Nectar cards in hand at the ready and wait to see what bargains are on offer plus what happens next in the saga of shopping on the Grid.