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The boot is on the other foot as Cradley Heath cobbler, 69, nails Tesco bid

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: September 04, 2014

By John Butterworth

  • Charles' shop - The last of the old fashioned cobbler's

  • Tesco plan would have been 'sole' destroying for cobbler Charles

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A COBBLER for 30 years has booted out a plan by Tesco to open a rival business yards away on the store car park.

After a 250-name petition by Charles Powell's customers, a letter to the store chairman Sir Richard Broadbent and lobbying by Cradley Heath Traders' Association and councillors, the international chain withdrew its application last week.

They said they were happy to support his continued presence in the town and invited their neighbour in for coffee with their shop manager.

Sixty-nine-year-old Charles, who has run C and C Shoe Repairs at 39 High Street in the town since May 1984, said: "I was absolutely delighted by the news and was impressed with the letter Tesco sent me. I also want to thank the tremendous support from customers and fellow traders in helping me to persuade Tesco to change its mind."

He first learnt about the scheme three weeks ago when he read on a lamppost near his shop about the planning application which was due to go before Sandwell Council planning committee this week.

Timpson's wanted to put a glass container pod on the store car park to repair shoes and watches, to cut keys and provide a dry cleaning and photographic service. As well as organising a petition and bringing his concerns before last month's Traders' Association Charles wrote a letter to the Tesco Chairman and contacted local councillors, John Tipper, Julie Webb and Anne Shackleton.

Last week Councillor Webb contacted Charles to tell him that Tesco had withdrawn the scheme.

A few days later he had a letter from Liz Johnston, Customer Services Executive at Tesco Customer Service Centre in Dundee, thanking him for his letter to their Chairman. She continued: "I was so sorry to learn the proposed opening of a Timpson's in our Cradley Heath store has caused so much worry for you.

"I can fully appreciated your concerns as to the effect this would have on your own business.

"As soon as I received your letter, I contacted our Property Planning Department and the Store Director, to see if we could have this decision overturned. After discussing this at length with them, and given the overwhelming support you received from the residents of Cradley Heath, they have all agreed it would be wrong to open a Timpson's in this store.

"It was heart-warming to see the support you received from your customers for you and your business. After 30 years serving the community, I am sure you must know many of them and their families by name. We realise how important your business is to them and are happy to support your continued presence in the High Street. Many thanks for bringing this to our attention and I wish you and your customers all the best."

Charles added: "You can't let these big businesses steamroller the smaller shops. I am not against competition, but as a single trader I couldn't have competed with a business on a car park supported by such a huge supermarket chain that could open from 8am to 7pm seven days a week. "Besides," he added, "there are plenty of empty shops in Cradley Heath High Street if anyone wants to open a business."

Councillor John Tipper said: "Charles has worked hard to establish his business and with the strength of local feeling it is heartening that Tesco has seen sense."

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