Premium supermarket chain Waitrose has announced today that all of its branded grocery products will now be matched on price with the same goods sold at sector leader Tesco.
Waitrose had previously offered the brand match promotion on just 1,000 of it products and this extension has been hailed as a shrewd move by the retailer which is usually perceived to be more expensive than the top four grocers; Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.
In a further challenge to its e-tail partner Ocado, Waitrose is also now offering free delivery to any online customer who spends more than £50 in one transaction.
Although Ocado has started carrying its own products and has signed an agreement with French supermarket chain Carrefour to sell its goods, a large chunk of its orders are for Waitrose prodcuts, so this offer of free delivery could dent the e-tailer’s appeal.
Mark Price, Managing Director of Waitrose, commented: “The tough economic climate is putting pressure on everyone, so this is excellent news for customers.
“Extending Brand Match, alongside Essential Waitrose, increased promotions and free delivery of online orders, will give customers even more confidence that they can do their entire weekly shop with us, with no sacrifice of quality, range and inspiration or service.”
Another supermarket chain which is unlikely to be pleased with these new offers is Sainsbury’s which runs its own price matching service for branded goods against its rivals, and in truth all of the major supermarkets have recently been trying to compete on which has the best value promotions.
Over the last six months Tesco launched its much maligned Big Price Drop scheme, Sainsbury’s & Asda started offering coupons to customers if its goods were cheaper elsewhere, and Morrisons even created a daily lottery to try and entice shoppers.
Price said in a letter to customers: “I am pleased to tell you that our prices on branded grocery products are now identical to Tesco’s, excluding promotions.
“As you would expect from Waitrose, there are no gimmicks, no coupons to redeem against a later shop, and no need to check your receipt online. We simply match the prices on the shelf, so you benefit immediately.”
In recent grocery market data compiled by research firm Kantar Worldpanel, Waitrose was shown as making ground on the major supermarket chains, and recent weekly sales updates from the firm have shown strong growth when compared to it competitors.
Commenting on today’s announcements, Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said: “Whilst carrying a premium offer and attracting higher category shoppers, Waitrose has not lost sight of value through the prolonged consumer downturn in the UK.
“The introduction of its Essentials range was a major investment that materially adjusted Waitrose’s core customers’ perception of value (we sense that Tesco UK’s ‘Everyday Value’ has involved Waitrose’s Essentials as part of its thinking); that robust price perception was reinforced by the price matching against Tesco, which is now underscored.”