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19May94 UK: TESCO TAKES ADVANTAGE OF AIR RIGHTS.

By Mark Court.Food giant Tesco plans to build supermarkets above suburban railway stations in the wake of the Government's clampdown on out-of-town shopping centres.Tesco has targeted Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire for its first railway supermarket, which is the prototype for a new generation of air-rights developments.Until now office developments in central London were the only examples of this type of construction, where the building sits above railway lines on a steel or concrete deck.Tesco hopes to seize further development opportunities when Britain's railways are privatised and turn railway users into new customers.The retail sector relentlessly built massive out-of-town shopping centres until it was thrown into turmoil by the Government's bid to bring shopping back into the town centres this month.Now retail giants are again turning to town centres and are also pushing for value for money from contractors.Research by market analyst Nomura reveals that the food giants want to cut store construction costs by 20 per cent.One store builder said: 'A few years ago we would build these stores for £12 million. Then it went down to £8 million in the recession. Now we have just started work on a store for less than £5 million.'But the good news for contractors is that the retail sector is being buoyed by rising investment on refurbishment and new styles of store.Nomura found that Tesco is increasing its refit expenditure 'substantially' with its in-town Metro stores.Sainsbury has launched its version called Sainsbury Central.This year alone, Sainsbury, Tesco and Safeway will spend £1.5 billion on new stores - 3 per cent of the total UK construction market. CONSTRUCTION NEWS