Rivals hit back after Tesco cuts prices

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The Independent Online

High-street supermarkets Safeway and Asda have attacked Tesco claims that it is the least expensive grocery store in Europe. Tomorrow, Tesco will announce its shoppers are paying the best prices in Europe for a typical basket of 133 popular grocery items.

A Tesco survey shows a basket including washing powder, bananas, butter and chicken breasts cost £151.58 in Tesco, but up to £162.66 in Germany. In France, similar groceries cost £187.27.

Compared to the top two retailers in France, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands, Tesco is the second most expensive retailer for branded products. But it is cheapest on average by 41 per cent for economy lines, claims to be 0.1 per cent cheaper than Asda and 14 per cent cheaper than Safeway, based on figures for the past eight weeks.

Tesco is announcing a further £100m in price cuts across 3,500 of its products. "We're committed to lowering prices," said Tim Maso. "We're cutting £100m off prices on Monday, having cut £1.2bn over the past five years in our British stores.

"We want our customers in the UK to enjoy the best shopping experience, with low prices, committed service and great quality."

However, Asda and Safeway are both launching counter-attacks. Last week, Asda said it would make a round of grocery price cuts on confectionery, frozen food and soft drinks, part of the store's £200m price-cutting programme for this year.

A spokesman for the company, which claims to provide the cheapest products by 11.5 per cent, compared to the average prices of the other main retailers, said: "There has been, and will be, no let-up in our determination to ensure that we always offer the lowest prices.

"Not only are we the cheapest but the gap is getting wider every week."

Safeway also claimed to offer the most competitively priced goods. "We have recently compared a typical shopping basket, which includes some of our big promotion products and some that are not on promotion," said a Safeway spokesman. "We find we are significantly cheaper than all the competition."

Tesco, which announced a £1.05bn profit for the year to the end of February, on turnover up 11.9 per cent, will this week reveal its figures for the half-year.