Co-op cuts prices in response to 'tight' competition

The Co-op is investing £50 million in cutting the price of grocery staples in response to "tight" competition on the high street, it has announced.

The retail giant said it was lowering the price of some products by more than 40%, with more than 600 products now costing an average of 14% less.

Co-op retail chief executive Jo Whitfield said: "We are the most visited food retailer on the high street but competition is tight and we want to keep attracting shoppers through the door."

She said the ongoing price cuts were part of a strategy to "make Co-op the UK's number one convenience retailer".

Analysts have noted that tough competition in the supermarket sector has shielded consumers from the brunt of food price rises.

The retailer claimed the cuts to the price of fruit, vegetables, bread, fresh meat and ready meals as well as household brand names could help shoppers save almost £120 a year.

Among the savings are 40p off the price of a £1.45 Warburtons Toastie Loaf, a 4p cut to six own brand British medium free range eggs, a 16p cut to Fairtrade bananas to 79p a kilo and 24p off three mixed peppers to 95p.

The Co-op, which has 2,500 shops across the country, revealed early this month that it doubled its sales growth over the festive period, achieving a 6.2% jump in like-for-like sales over the two weeks to January 1 compared with 3.5% a year earlier.

It also announced plans to open 100 new food stores this year at a cost of £160 million, creating 1,600 new jobs.

The business, which is owned by its members, has benefited from a shift in shopping habits which has seen consumers replace big, weekly trips to larger supermarkets with smaller, more frequent trips, often to convenience stores.

It is pushing through the takeover of rival grocery group Nisa, which has around 1,200 shopkeeper members running more than 3,200 stores, in a £137.5 million deal pending approval from the Competition and Markets Authority.

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