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Ocado’s new Zoom service ‘a knife in the back’

Food delivery company’s one-hour promise will affect an already battered high street, say traders

14 February, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Hak Huseyin, Jan Tucker and Av Tahir

BUSINESS owners have said Ocado’s proposed “Zoom” service, which they plan to run out of an Archway distribution hub, would be a “knife in the back” of independent businesses in the borough.

The food delivery company has come under fire after unveiling plans to run a distribution centre from the Bush Industrial Estate, just metres from Yerbury Primary School.

As previously reported, the plans could see up to 100 vans making two trips a day from the site.

Plans include diesel refuelling pumps, though Ocado has offered to run a fully electric delivery fleet from the industrial estate – an offer that depends on council and UK Power Network support.

But, while most of the focus has been on the environmental impact of the site, businesses in Archway are facing up to the prospect of competing against Ocado’s new Zoom service, which promises grocery deliveries within an hour.

Jan Tucker, who chairs the Archway Town Centre Group, said the news was a blow to the business community, which was just getting back on its feet after disruption caused by work to change the old Archway gyratory.

“The high street in general is struggling at the moment,” said Ms Tucker. “We have a number of supermarket shops in Archway. They actually bring people to the area, which we’re actually quite happy about.

“But we have a lot of little independent shops too.

“The changing of the gyratory did have a really big impact on us. Now, a couple of years later, we’re gradually coming back and seeing people come back to the businesses too.

“This Zoom service is going to have a huge impact on that. It will encourage people to do smaller shops online that are delivered by Ocado within an hour.

“There are a lot of greengrocer shops, local fruit stalls and other local independent businesses who will lose custom.

“These are shops that you walk past on your way home from work. These shops rely on local people.

“And it won’t just affect Archway, it will mean trouble for businesses across Islington. People all over the borough could be using this service.”

Av Tahir, owner of Tahir Halal Meat in Junction Road, said the news was “very worrying”.

“Obviously it’s going to affect us,” he added.

“It’s going to take customers away, and increase traffic. Both of those things are bad. It’s not good news.

“This is adding to the toll the high street is already taking.”

Local businessman and vice chair of the Archway Town Centre Group Hak Huseyin added: “This is another knife in the back of the community.

“People are worried about the air quality issues around this development, which is fair enough. But if there is an empty high street then that will bring its own issues for the community.”

Ocado declined to comment on traders’ concerns when approached by the Tribune.

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