Asda has blamed smaller “terrorist” retailers who have a limited stake in the beer market for sparking a pre-Christmas price war by slashing the price of Stella Artois.
The chain says its reduction to £9.87 for a 330ml 24-pack this week was a response to Iceland after it had cut the price of the pack to £9.99.
Steve Dancer, Asda’s beers, wines and spirits general manager, said: “We had no choice. We are trying to be responsible in pricing but the problem is with other smaller terrorist retailers who don’t have a great deal of interest in the beer market.”
However, he admitted that Asda would also be selling multipacks of Carlsberg for £9.87 - because demand had been overestimated. “We committed to too much Carlsberg so we have had to bring it down to £9.87, in line with Stella, and get it moving.”
Although Dancer blamed other retailers for devaluing the beer market, Asda’s tactics in cutting the price on key spirit lines (The Grocer, November 1 2003, p4) has sparked a fierce war in the spirits aisles.
Dancer conceded that Tesco had already “reacted to and matched” Asda and this week Sainsbury took steps to instigate a battle in whisky by selling a 1-litre bottle of The Famous Grouse for £12.99 compared to Asda and Tesco who have it at £14.74.
Steve Kitching, MD of take home sales at Interbrew UK, said: “We are concerned about the impact on the beer category in regard to availability and consumer perceptions of beer.”
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