TISH Dockerty, who runs the Ludlow local produce market and her own apple juice business in the town, believes that if a Marks and Spencer Food Hall comes to Rocks Green it will damage traders.

Ms Dockerty is also a member of the Ludlow Chamber of Commerce but said her comments were personal.

Her concern is that if reports that an M&S Food Hall is coming to the town it will be in direct competition with Ludlow’s many specialist independent food shops.

“Personally I think any substantial out of town retail development can only be but detrimental to Ludlow town centre, she said.

“My understanding is that is a M&S Food Hall will clearly be in direct competition with Ludlow food outlets, like delis and fruit and veg shops, including the Local Produce Market which are on the whole independently owned.”

She is concerned that a major national player would not sell local produce but would be able to offer benefits such as free parking.

It would also have deep pockets and be better placed to weather economic storms.

“Large national chains like M&S have far more resilience then small family owned businesses,” Ms Dockerty added.

“They will offer free parking which will be huge incentive to shoppers and they will not stock local food lines so their contribution is far less to our local economy.”

The Advertiser understands that the most likely supermarket to set up at the Rocks Green site will be Marks and Spencer with a new type of Food Hall although it is known that Sainsbury’s has also been interested in the site.

Traders in Ludlow where there are a large number of specialist food shops are very concerned about the impact of a large chain setting up on the outskirts of the town.

Ludlow has a national reputation for its food shops that attract many visitors to the town throughout the year.