Look At It This Way - September 11, 2015

Have your say

ALDI isn’t in business to be the ultimate convenience store for local council planners. It’s there to serve shoppers and make money for its stakeholders.

The fact it’s been very successful at doing just that shows they tend to stick stores in the right place at the right time – even if their car parks leave something to be desired.

The Aldi-fication of Blackpool is already well advanced. So when strategists settled on Squires Gate as the next site you can bet your bottom euro they did their groundwork.

Blackpool Council planners urged them to take over the nice big empty store-sized space at Highfield Road, Marton, instead.

Philip Isherwood, Aldi property developer, politely demurred. “Aldi considered that the site is a poor location for food retailing generally, which is likely to be the reason the Booths store is closing.”

Since closing that store, the local flagship until Lytham’s opened; Booths have opened another in St Annes. Aldi already has one there, remember the furore over the former Conservative Club site?

Booths and Aldi wouldn’t be here today if bosses didn’t reinvent as well as reinvest. Booths started as a teahouse in Blackpool in 1847, Aldi as a small grocery store in a provincial German town, brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht taking over their mum’s shop. Albrecht Discount = Aldi.

Aldi expanded here in 1990. Today, the buying power of 4,000 stores globally give it real clout – and 90 per cent product exclusivity… including many of those traditionally higher end deli treats now brought within most budgets.

Just as a Lidl of what you fancy does you good Aldi makes money go further without demeaning buyers even if the frills are fewer and trading hours shorter. We don’t need an artisan café at Aldi, table service or self service; we can do without loos, too. And even the most pretentious Hyacinth Bouquet-types no longer take old M&S or Booths bags into Aldi, Lidl, Home Bargains or B&M to stash their shopping.

Canny shoppers aren’t cheapskates and they’re not cutting corners in quality either. There are kids in households on low budgets now eating far more fresh fruit and veg than ever because of value supermarkets.

But will the new Aldi at the Squires Gate site undermine the ethos of the Blackpool Airport enterprise zone, which is to be set up in January?

Frankly, I’d rather the site had stayed an international airport, even if the title was more wishful thinking than anything else. However, Coun David Owen this week afforded us a rare insight into the council’s tenure there, when they were paying far too much for the privilege of planes taking off and landing.

Today, my hope is that an enterprise zone really will be enterprising and not the damp squib the Warton zone proved – which was labelled the ‘worst performing’ in the UK last year when Government ministers were highly critical of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce blaze the trail for the Blackpool zone – and they are already redefining inspirational at tonight’s Be Inspired Business Awards.

Blackpool needs to play its part in the northern powerhouse. Way back when, our lack of assisted area status did us no favours. And ‘experts’ failed to recognise that manufacturing – whether of sports cars, bread, biscuits, toys, sweeties or engineering components – should be just as significant as tourism to Blackpool’s bigger picture and long-term future.

The old North West Development Agency – far more than just a quango – fought our corner of the region admirably. We’ve got some way to go in finding its equal today.

So do we turn Aldi and the promise of 40 jobs away from Squires Gate?

Only if others really will fill in the blanks there – and elsewhere.

We have to make OUR enterprise zone enterprising – otherwise we’ll be left trading in empty words and emptier space.

Let’s make it work.

Why should the Prof take the rap for swearing?

It’s not easy being Green, as Kermit, a previous Lights Switch-On celebrity, once sang.

When I first heard Professor Green was playing the Lights I thought Cluedo was coming to town – until realising I’d got Professor Plum mixed up with Reverend Green.

Professor Green apparently shocked the Switch –On audience by swearing. He’s a rapper. And a man-child. Even I know no word is off-limits to a rapper.

One study of ‘profanity in popular rap music’ found about 220 ‘cuss’ words on average per album – and up to 50 in some of the worst offenders. Seriously? Someone sat there, pressing pause at each profanity?

The only folk counting at Switch-On were those clocking the 30,000 people attending the three-day event. Sadly, our kids will have heard it all before. Do you turn the telly off each time some idiot f-bombs pre-watershed? It happens.

I still have nightmares of watching my nine-year-old niece doing a gangsta rap in a French school talent show – the unexpurgated version.

Yo, muthas, watch with pride. This is the nation which gave you La Plume De Ma Tante – and this auntie would have edited it out.