Bloggers aim to keep Harrogate free of Tesco

When I lived in Yorkshire, I used to say that Harrogate was actually in Surrey since it was so different to the rest of “God’s own county”.  So it is amusing to see that the town’s HG postcode is the only one in mainland Britain without a .

From a public relations perspective, this is an interesting situation since those fighting to keep HG a Tesco-free zone have set up a blog called – .  The media love a David and Golliath story – and this one is one to watch.  With local television and national newspaper coverage already secured, I think this one could go global.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

15 thoughts on “Bloggers aim to keep Harrogate free of Tesco”

  1. I’d get the likes of the Professional Drivers Association (PDA) to go down there and run one of their demonstrations outside the nursery where the goods entrance might be built. The PDA used to run safety awareness sessions in schools. They would take the unit part of the truck ( without the trailer) and a whole host of kids would stand right in front of the cab ( providing it wasn’t a T-cab shape ) directly up against the truck and run a bit of rope out in front to see how many kids would fit in the space. You might even get half a nursery class full of kids in the drivers’ blind spot, it’s so big.

    This could help heighten the awareness of the dangers of mums and dads picking up kids and small children near trucks and force Tesco to re position its goods entrance proposal at the very least. Also it might go some way to helping our somewhat beleaguered truckers who get the sharp end of the stick sometimes. It’s not their fault they have huge blind spots.

  2. You illustrate how visual techniques can be very powerful – they are easier to propose for those opposing something such as in this case. What do you think Tesco could do to get over its message though?

  3. Tesco could take the recycling idea one stage further by building a campaign to put Harrogate on the map for another reason other than being the last post code to get a Tesco by aiming to be the best postcode for green recycling initiatives. Even building on the storecard point for the greenest shoppers. Would this would enhance the area’s reputation and possibly hike up property prices?

    Plus, the kids thing seem to be a bone of contention. How about a large creche/ playgroup? Not just for the pre-schoolers. You know with cool stuff like play stations, etc. Then parents are bound to spend more dosh without hoddit and doddit in tow. And, it stops some of the traffic if folk from the northern part don’t need to criss-cross town to get to a supermarket as research shows is happening at the moment.

    They could give generously to the local school too. After school clubs are run on shoe strings and usually need cash injections. Tesco could even organise deliveries not to take place during school children’s arriving and departing times.

    I think Tesco could really push their CSR here, with genuine two-way benefits.

  4. Some interesting ideas here – the charm offensive may help, but there is probably some Harrogate snobbery at play also. I’m sure they wouldn’t object so much to a Waitrose!!

  5. Well spotted. I live just outside Harrogate and was amused to learn it’s the only town where Tesco has zero market share.

    I admit it, I’m a card-carrying member of the middle class – though my university salary doesn’t really support this aspiration. I shop either in Waitrose or Sainsbury’s, very occasionally in Morrisons but suffered a panic attack when I looked into Asda the other Saturday. Very scary environment.

    But Waitrose is not where the headscarf brigade shops in Harrogate. There’s a celebrated local food emporium called Weeton’s that’s been much raved about in the national media. (I see that York and Leeds have revamped two Co-ops as all-organic stores which also seems a good way to go.) There’s also a good farmers’ market in Harrogate.

    Have you noticed how ‘the nation of shopkeepers’ has become the ‘nation of shop goers’? Tesco ergo sum.

  6. Thanks for the local insight Richard. The thing that surprises me about supermarkets as “destination shopping” relates to parents picking up their children from school and stopping to shop on the way home. Why don’t they go on the way there? In Salisbury Waitrose you can’t move for all the public school children, who whine in much posher accents than those at Tesco.

  7. Would my ideas be considered to be turning on the charm offensive in a negative way? Just an observation to help me clarify how they would be perceived if implemented. Thanks

  8. I think you could apply Grunig’s situational theory here – once you are facing active publics, it is more difficult to persuade them and so the charm offensive may be misconstrued as an attempt to bribe in a cynical way. However, earlier in the process, perhaps with latent or aware publics, then positive actions on the part of the company may be taken in good faith. Of course, it may depend also on whether the company was being totally cynical – should it maybe engage early in dialogue to understand local concerns and enable those who are affected to suggest how things could be improved, so seeking a win-win situation through two-way symmetric communications.

  9. Oh my goodness, yes of course. That makes perfect sense, thank you.
    I wish I could maximise my brain power to remember everything you tell me. I’d be getting head hunted… I WISH!

  10. As a Harrogate resident for the past 12 years, I’d have to say that Richard Bailey’s view of the town’s shoppers is slightly skewed. The town currently has four supermarkets, all geographically distant. Waitrose is outrageously expensive but central and easy to park, Sainsburys less expensive but outside of the town, Morrisons cheap and cheerful and again, on the edge of town, Asda is central and relatively cheap.

    “The Headscarf Brigade” – er, who are they, exactly? I rather think headscarfs fell out of favour sometime in the 1960s, with only our dear Queen gamely keeping up now defunct fashion, along with brogues and spectacles the size of windscreens). The majority of shoppers in Weetons are tourists, for the simple reason that Weetons is not a supermarket, but a specialist deli-cafe that has admittedly a fabulous stock of hamper-type gifts but not a loo roll or tube of toothpaste in sight.

    One other, small point. There is a Tesco Express on the edge of the Harrogate/Starbeck border. Surely that is a market share of some sort?

  11. Gill – I’ve emailed Richard for his response on the nuances of Harrogate shopping.

    Personally, I don’t find Waitrose to be expensive in Salisbury and find that I actually buy better food so eat less of it.

    On the Tesco front – you might find Ellee Seymour’s blog on Manningtree interesting: http://elleeseymour.com/2007/02/19/will-planners-ever-say-no-to-tesco/ She says they too already have an Express store and are now battling a planned superstore. Maybe that is the strategy employed by Tesco?

    From a PR perspective, I find this all fascinating in terms of whether there is a point at which views of a company tip over from support to hostility.

  12. John – I think that is the big challenge for Tesco – they have achieved a lot in terms of changing our shopping, a lot for the better. But with that comes a responsibility – and at present they are trying to work out how to be such a large force without the negative impact (real or media-generated) that often comes with such territory.

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