SUPERMARKET giant Sainsbury’s has applied to expand its new Bicester store before it has even opened.

The supermarket is currently under construction as part of the £70m town centre redevelopment, which includes shops, restaurants and a cinema, and is due to open next summer.

But Sainsbury’s already wants to expand the store by 30 per cent, from 4,842 sqm of sales floor space in its original plan, to 6,292 sqm, to compete with new Tesco plans.

The move comes after Tesco and Bicester Village unveiled joint plans to extend the designer shopping centre into Tesco’s current site in Pingle Drive, and open a new store, double the current size, across the A41.

Tesco’s new store would have 5,151sqm of sales floor space.

Sainsbury’s says its extension is necessary to enable the town centre redevelopment to compete with the new Tesco store.

Expansion would involve the mezzanine floor area and would not involve any alterations to the exterior of the building.

The retail chain said by expanding its store, the vitality and viability of the town centre would be maintained as more people would shop there.

It says if Tesco is allowed to build the biggest store in Bicester, in an out-of-town location with free parking, it could be detrimental to other retailers in the town.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “Sainsbury’s, Stockdale Land and Cherwell District Council have worked hard to deliver a significant joint investment in Bicester, in accordance with national and local planning policy.

“The potential for a larger supermarket located outside the town off the A41, combined with the availability of free parking, would move the retail focus away from Bicester town centre, reduce its attractiveness and undermine our substantial investment.”

Other traders welcomed the expansion plan by Sainsbury’s.

Paul Headford, of Crown Dry Cleaners in Crown Walk, said: “I think what they are doing is good and I think the justification is right. Once it is open it’s going to increase footfall in the town centre.”

Lynn Wright, of Bicester Beds, in Market Square, raised no concerns about the extension, but was more concerned about any expansion of out of town shopping.

In a statement Tesco said: “We are fully focused on delivering a new and vastly improved store for Bicester for our customers.

“We will create 250 jobs for the local community, this is on top of our 230 existing colleagues.

“In addition we will significantly improve the local road network, which is long overdue.

“Our plans have received very high levels of support from the local community.”