Asda has said that it will launch an initiative to benefit smaller high street stores in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, when it opens a new store there on 15 May.

The Wal-Mart based retailer says that instead of drawing shoppers away from Huntly town centre, the COLLECT&SAV£ rewards scheme will actually attract shoppers to the Scottish town who had never visited Huntly before.

“For every GBP25 (US$44.7) spent in the high street and every GBP25 spent in Asda we’ll offer shoppers a GBP5 George voucher,” Nick Aragawall, Asda spokesperson, told just-food.

Asda said that the scheme reflected the retailers commitment to building thriving local communities, building on a speech made by Wal-Mart president and CEO Scott Lee in Chicago earlier in the month. Lee promised that Wal-Mart would do more to support small businesses near to Wal-Mart stores in the US.

“We take the contribution we can make to the community very seriously, through fund-raising, charitable giving and practical support, but we know in places like Huntly we’ll be rightly judged by our actions not our words,” said ASDA’s head of community involvement Richard Woodhall.

“That’s why I’m proud that we’ve chosen Huntly to trial a new scheme that shows we want to work with, not against, existing retailers and share the benefits of the new shoppers we’ll attract to the town.”

Although the opening of an Asda outlet in the town has met mixed reactions, local business leaders in Huntly seem to view this effort as a step in the right direction.

“There’s been nervousness in our small town ever since it was clear we’d have two supermarkets open within weeks of each other,” said Aberdeenshire Town Partnership coordinator Donald Boyd.  “Our job is to keep the town centre vital and active and this scheme fits very well with that. We support ASDA’s aspirations for the collector scheme and will work with them to ensure it’s a success.”

Asda said that a number of other local initiatives will complement the scheme. The national retailer said that in Huntly it would showcase local produce, work in conjunction with the Huntly Town Partnership to offer practical support to the town’s retailers and support local organisations and charities.

The move follows a spate of criticism that the major UK retailers are squeezing independent traders out of the market place and a UK Competition Commission investigation into the issue.