Asda in secret move to expand in South East

Asda has called in specialist PR advice to help push through a secret blueprint for up to 100 new stores in the South East of England.

Asda: controversial proposal
Asda: controversial proposal

The Wal-Mart owned sup­ermarket chain has hired Bell Pottinger as it finalises plans for a massive expansion in the number of stores it has in London and the Thames Gateway. It has not released figures but it is bel­ieved that around 100 outlets could be in the early stages of planning.

Asda's head of property communications Jonathan Refoy said Bell Pottinger would provide ‘communications support for our investment plans'.

The account will be led by Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chairman Peter Bingle, who said the agency would help with ‘planning and community engagement'.

The plans have already been attacked by campaigners opposed to the growth of sup­ermarkets, including the ind­ependent think-tank the New Economics Foundation.

Its policy director Andrew Sims claimed: ‘People want choice about where to shop and not between supermarkets selling virtually identical goods at virtually identical prices'.

He added: ‘If business is serious about having a dialogue with communities it should find out if it is wanted and if what it is planning will fit into a div­erse local economy.'

Bell Pottinger is already retained by Asda, but was forced to pitch competitively for this latest chunk of work. As a result of the win Asda is now one of Bell Pottinger's most lucrative clients.

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