Checking out the facts

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Sainsbury's and Tesco's profit margins are more than 5 per cent, compared with 2.9 per cent for France's Carrefour and 1.2 per cent for Germany's Asko.

An out-of-town

superstore sells 25 per cent more per square metre than in-town.

The wage bill for out of town is 30 per cent

less per square metre and profits are 75 per cent higher.

In the 10 years to 1993, Sainsbury, Tesco, Safeway and Asda spent more than pounds 14bn on new stores.

Own-brand goods are 15 per cent cheaper than the name brand but achieve the

same profit.

More than 500m ready meals were sold last year - around 10

for each man, woman and child - compared with hardly any a decade ago.