Asda bosses slate rivals' promotional tricks

Damian Clarkson
Key Speakers At the 2013 Retail Week Live Conference
Key Speakers At the 2013 Retail Week Live Conference

Two bosses at Asda have launched a scathing attack on his rivals as pressure on the big four supermarkets shows no sign of easing.

With the budget supermarkets eating into their market share and cash-strapped consumers tightening their belts, all of the major supermarkets have suffered a slump in sales in recent months.

And each has been searching for a way to reverse that trend.

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Vouchers for points

For its part, Morrisons has launched its own loyalty card, which rewards shoppers with £5 vouchers the more they spend with them.

However, Asda chief merchandising officer, Barry Williams, gave the move short shrift, likening it to the Bank of England's money-printing programme.

"Our friends in Bradford [Morrisons] have really hit the voucher button," he said. "[Former Bank of England governor] Mervyn King is alive and well in Bradford, undertaking quantitative easing."

Asda chief executive Andy Clarke (pictured top) described the voucher strategy as "the gimmick game for short-term sales wins," adding: "We won't be knee-jerked into reacting to short term tactics. Vouchers can win quarters, but strategies win decades."

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Sainsbury's Executive: 'Reports of Supermarket Death Greatly Exaggerated'
Sainsbury's Executive: 'Reports of Supermarket Death Greatly Exaggerated'

"Sainsbury's has given up"

Clarke also took a swipe at Sainsbury's, dismissing their plans for £150 million worth of price cuts as a "drop in the ocean" compared to the reported £1 billion Asda had set aside.

He went on to describe Sainsbury's prediction that supermarket sales were likely to remain subdued as a sign it had thrown in the white flag.

"That feels like a business that has given up before it's started," he said.

Speaking about his own company, Clarke said the focus would remain on offering "Everyday Low Prices" rather than promotions and vouchers.

"That's the strategy we are on and we need to keep accelerating it," he said.

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Tough times ahead

Whatever you make of the varying strategies, it's clear that none of the big four are faring particularly well at the moment.

Like-for-like quarterly sales figures are down 6.3% at Morrisons, 5.4% at Tesco, 2.8% at Sainsbury's and 1.6% at Asda.

And with the threat from the budget chains only likely to grow, it's fair to say that they all face a challenging future.

What do you think of the supermarket's strategies? Do you like the deals offered at any of the big four? Or have you ditched them for one of the budget chains? Let us know in the comments section below

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