TESCO has abandoned plans to create 400 jobs with the opening of a new store in Peterlee.
The supermarket giant announced today that the proposed redevelopment of the former East Durham College site in Essington Way was one of dozens of new developments it was scrapping.
Chief executive officer Dave Lewis said: “It is with a heavy heart that I am today announcing that we are unable to proceed with 49 planned new store developments across the UK, including our planned store in Peterlee.
“Our performance as a business has fallen significantly short of where we would want it to be and my absolute imperative has to be to protect the future of our business for the 300,000 colleagues we employ in communities all over the UK.
“I know that this news will be a real disappointment to many people in the local community and we’re extremely grateful for the support we’ve received for our plans.
“I am very aware of the importance of the site to the area and I am determined that we will work closely with the council to find the right solution for the local community.”
Easington MP Grahame Morris, whose constituency covers the Essington Way site, said the decision would be a major blow to the town.
“I am immensely disappointed that Tesco’s will not go ahead with a new store on the former college site in the centre of Peterlee, and deliver the jobs and investment they promised,” he said.
“I know from conversations I have had with the community that local residents supported the development, and were eager for Tesco’s to proceed after they were granted planning permission.
“There are a number of issues to resolve regarding Tesco’s intentions for the site. Tesco still has a responsibility to the community and they cannot allow the site to remain in its current state indefinitely.
“I hope they will do all they can in order for the site to be utilised by another developer so that we can continue our efforts to attract new business and investment into Peterlee.”
Tesco staff at stores across the region also face an uncertain future, with the firm announcing it is to close 43 unprofitable stores nationwide.
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw union said it was a “worrying and difficult time” for members and that it had arranged meetings to begin discussions on Tesco’s plans.
Tesco is not yet disclosing the locations of the 43 stores to close but Mr Lewis revealed that “significant proportion” would be its Express convenience shops.
The sites will be spread across the country. The chief executive would not give any guidance on the scale of the jobs to be lost or whether they were likely to be in the thousands.
Employees will learn over coming months where the axe will fall, with full details set to be known by April.