TRADERS in Hucknall are overwhelmingly against a plan to extend the Tesco superstore, saying it could be "the death" of the town centre.
The Dispatch exclusively revealed last week that the supermarket giant is planning to spend 5 million to create a second floor at its flagship store off Station Road.
It would be used to sell non-food products, ranging from DVD players and televisions to clothes.
Already an architect and contractor is in place and because it is understood that planning permission isn't needed, work could start as early as next month.
According to a Dispatch poll carried out this week (SEE PAGE 2), most people in Hucknall think the Tesco store is beneficial to the town centre.
But traders interviewed by the Dispatch this week were 100% against the extension, saying that the arrival of Tesco in 2003 had already decimated business.
Many blame the store for the closure of long-standing, small businesses and fear that a second floor would mean even fewer shoppers in the town centre.
Arlene Collins, who runs the Collins Thornton's shop on High Street, said: "I don't believe anything we do as High Street traders will have any effect on Tesco's expansion across Britain and the rest of the world.
"We cannot stop them and things will get worse if they open a second floor in Hucknall.
"I do not shop there myself or even buy petrol there. But I think there has been a shift in trade since they opened.
"If only we could get a superstore in the old Safeway store (which closed in October 2005 and has remained empty ever since). Competition is the key."
Melih Cansiz has run the Frank Sisson electrical shop on High Street for the past 20 years. The business has been going for more than 100 years.
He could soon be in direct competition with Tesco and said: "A second floor will affect the whole town.
"The damage is unbelievable. It will get a lot worse until we lose our High Street. People won't realise until it is too late.
"We've no problem competing with Tesco's prices and we can. And Tesco cannot compete with our personal service with things like delivering on the same day.
"But the strength of Tesco already shows up. There's nobody walking about on the High Street, yet Tesco's car park is full. The arrival of Tesco completely ruined the High Street, which was always nice.
"It's amazing that they might not need planning permission for a second floor but I have to get permission just to replace my shutters."
Julian Bird, who is the owner of Hucknall Domestic Appliances (HDA) on High Street, said: "A bigger Tesco is not what we want. But I feel there is nothing we can do about it. It can only mean a drop in trade."
Michael Parker owns the Hallmark greetings cards shop on Central Walk that overlooks the empty and boarded-up former Safeway store.
He said: "An extension to Tesco would clearly have a worrying effect on all the businesses in the town centre. The Hucknall store already sells cards but I suppose it could extend its range.
"It's about time we had free parking on the Piggins Croft car park to encourage more shoppers to use the town centre. They can park for free at Tesco and do all their shopping under one roof.
"You've got to be against Tesco getting bigger. Shops have already been hit enough."
Yvonne Turner, who runs Turner's Underwear Factory Shop on Baker Street, blasted: "I am totally against Tesco and their latest plans. The shop has taken away a lot of my trade."
Mrs Turner has been trading in Hucknall for more than 20 years but fears she might have to close if things don't pick up – and she partly blames Tesco.
"We are struggling," she said. "If they are going to expand to another floor, it's going to affect the small traders even more. It's not healthy competition.
"We have stopped selling children's pyjamas because we cannot buy and sell them more cheaply than Tesco.
"They can go to places like China, order millions of one thing and name their price. People say we should compete but it's impossible on that scale.
"There is a lot of regeneration going on in Hucknall with the upgrade of the Market Place and plans for pedestrianisation.
"But if Tesco continues to grow, there will be no town-centre shops for people to use. Either locals spend in the town-centre shops or they will be gone.
"The problem is people might complain about Tesco but many shop there."
Jonathan Severn, who runs the Lawrence Severn butcher's shop on High Street, said: "If Tesco are allowed to extend, once again they are treading on other shops in High Street. Once again, it won't be a fair playing field.
"A bigger Tesco won't help the town centre, which needs a boost. The council should drop the rates to encourage smaller shops. The council need to recognise that Tesco is not the be all and end all.
"If Tesco starts selling more electrical goods, we won't get shops like Argos in the town centre, which would attract other businesses."
Wendy Rafferty has only recently opened Rafferty's shoe shop on High Street and is also against the Tesco plans.
She said: "All these big chain stores are going over the top with everything. It's all over the news about them taking over the high street and small shops are going out of business.
"If Tesco are allowed to go ahead, there will eventually be no small shops and no choice for shoppers. They already do many people down on price and most can't compete."
Gail Wynne, who has owned the Fruit Corner shop on High Street for six years, added: "My opinion is the same as everyone else's and Tesco shouldn't be able to expand.
"It will just take even more trade away from the town centre and that can't be good."
Philip Johnson, who runs P.E.Johnson newsagent's on High Street, commented: "Tesco has decimated the High Street and an expansion will make it worse. If people want town-centre shopping, places like Tesco cannot carry on like this."