Credit Crisis Diary: 17/02/2009

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The Independent Online

Sainsbury's prices trump squabbling rivals

Asda and Tesco have been slugging it out – even lodging complaints against the other with the Advertising Standards Authority – over adverts claiming to be cheaper. But, according to, both may have been picking the wrong fight as Sainsbury's yesterday emerged as the cheapest grocer on 24 staple grocery lines. In February, Tesco's basket was £31.15, Asda's was £30.43 and Sainsbury's led the way with £30.38. Customers will be pleased that Sainsbury's has been focused on reducing prices and not wasting its time complaining to the ASA.

Diamond's no petrol head

Barclays watchers will be interested to hear that Bob Diamond, right, the head of Barclays Capital, has returned his Range Rover to a dealership in Mayfair (of course). Our source says the men at the Stratstone showroom thought Bob was getting rid of the gas-guzzler before moving to the US. But BarCap reassures us that there is no change to his current arrangement whereby he splits his time roughly equally between the US, where BarCap recently took over Lehman Brothers' business, and London. With BarCap predicting a big rise in the oil price to $76 this year, maybe Bob's just economising.

At least Iceland has its floral-scented air

It takes an exceptionally good sales pitch to flog anything in Iceland these days, but Nordic eMarketing's description of the Tjarnabyggd area in the south-west takes some beating. It eulogises about the fertile soil, amazing water, natural beauty and opportunities to bathe outside in hot tubs watching the Northern Lights. One resident, Margret Erlingsdottir, describes its splendour thus: "It is peaceful and quiet and the birdsong and the floral-scented air make the quality of life better. This place gives us peace of mind and a new appreciation of life." Sounds like the perfect place for those ex-directors of Baugur, the stricken retail investor, to rest and lick their wounds from its collapse.

Cheggers, a celebrity for tough times

Tesco unveiled its new superstore fascia in the centre of Liverpool to a fanfare yesterday, as news of its first city centre non-food and grocery store reverberated across the Merseyside airwaves. But its decision to use local celebrity Keith Chegwin to open the store raised a few eyebrows. Maybe Cilla Black or Sir Paul McCartney were busy yesterday. Given these straitened times and the retailer's launch of discounter-branded products last year, persuading Mr Chegwin to open the store was altogether more appropriate.