Morrisons wins Advertising Standards Authority verdict but Aldi still walks tall

Match & More scheme launched last year by Morrisons made it the first of the 'big four' supermarkets to go head-to-head with the discounters Aldi and Lidl

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The Independent Online

A complaint from Aldi claiming that a rival supermarket’s price-match scheme was unfair has been thrown out by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The Match & More scheme launched last year by Morrisons made it the first of the “big four” supermarkets to go head-to-head with the discounters Aldi and Lidl, offering vouchers if like-for-like goods were cheaper. Ten months ago, however, Aldi complained to the ASA that a true comparison was impossible.

The main body of the complaint was overruled yesterday, with the ASA saying that Morrisons “did not misleadingly omit information or give a misleading impression of how the price match scheme worked”, and that “the products were matched in line with consumer expectations”.

One of the five points  made by Aldi was upheld, with Morrisons having to explain the mechanics of the scheme in greater detail.

Tony Baines, a managing director of buying at Aldi, said: “Our own analysis shows that the Morrisons Match & More scheme did not price-match Aldi. In our view, complex price promotions and price-matching schemes of this nature are confusing, are not transparent and do not serve the best interests of consumers.”

Morrisons’ group corporate services director, Martyn Jones, said: “The decision by the Advertising Standards Authority confirms the integrity of our price matching against our competitors, including Aldi.”

The decision came as the latest supermarket sales figures were released yesterday. These showed that despite the victory for Morrisons with the ASA, Aldi is still firmly the biggest winner on the high street, with sales up 18 per cent in the 12 weeks to 16 August.

By comparison, Morrisons fell 1.1 per cent over the same period as the company cut back on the voucher system used last year to boost sales, according to the research firm Kantar Worldpanel.

Elsewhere, Tesco’s sales stalled again and its market share fell to levels not seen for a decade.

Dave Lewis, the chief executive, was hailed as Tesco’s saviour by the City when he joined last year, and there had been signs sales were improving. But rivals pointed out that much of the boost was coming at the cost of margins and through heavy vouchering and discounting.

Sales at the UK’s biggest grocer declined by 0.9 per cent in the quarter to 16 August, with its market share at 28.3 per cent – a low last recorded in December 2004.

However, Asda was the worst performer of all the supermarkets, down 2.5 per cent. Earlier this month the company said sales fell 4.7 per cent in the second quarter – the worst period in its history – although chief executive Andy Clarke insisted the company had reached a “nadir” and the only way was up.

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