MYSTERY surrounds the location of a proposed third Tesco store in Abingdon.

A spokesman for the supermarket chain unwittingly revealed to the Herald that it is planning to open another branch in the town at the end of the year.

But, when later asked to confirm where this store would be, the firm declined to comment further.

Tesco, which has had a superstore in the town since the early 1980s, is already opening a Tesco Express store in the former Fitzharris Arms pub, in Thornhill Walk, off Wootton Road, next week.

It was confusion over a question from the Herald about this Tesco Express that saw the plans for a further Tesco revealed. We asked the firm in an email when “the new Tesco Express” would be opening The firm’s spokesman responded: “The development programme is currently showing an opening date of December 2, 2011.”

We replied: “Are you sure that is right? It looks like it is ready to open in a week or so?”

The Tesco spokesman then responded: “Massive apologies. I was looking at another Abingdon Express!”

Tesco has subsequently refused to confirm or deny that it is looking to open a third store in the town in December.

The spokesman said: “Until an agreement is reached, or an application made, we would not comment on individual cases.”

Paul Townsend, president of Abingdon Chamber of Commerce, speculated that Tesco could be looking at the former Ox pub site on Oxford Road. He said: “It would make sense. We have seen Tesco taking pubs over elsewhere.”

Mr Townsend was one of a number of business and community leaders to express their concern at Tesco’s apparent plans for a third store. He said: “We would have some concerns about any supermarket opening a number of stores in one town as we need to have a balance between the major multiple chains and the independent traders.” Sandy Lovatt, leader of Abingdon Town Council, said: “I have misgivings about it because while I welcome the service these shops will provide I am worried about large firms which can come and go. Being overloaded by national chains takes away the distinction of a town.”

Town councillor Jeanette Halliday said: “A lot of people I speak to are not happy about Tesco opening stores all over the place, however, they still shop there.”

The lease of the former Fitzharris Arms was sold to Tesco by brewer Greene King last year.

The pub, which opened in the 1950s, closed in December and the shop is set to open on Friday, June 14, creating 18 new jobs.

Store manager Dean Fencott said: “In this time of economic uncertainty, it is great that we are able to create jobs for our local community and help get people back into work.

“We are delighted to be opening a Tesco Express store in Thornhill Walk and look forward to playing an active role in the local community.”