One of the UK&'s top brewers has slammed retailers for slashing in-store beer prices for the World Cup.

Mark Gerken, off-trade sales director of Scottish & Newcastle, said retailers were wrong to cut prices at a time when demand would be expected to peak.

"Florists don&'t reduce their prices on red roses just because it&'s Valentine&'s Day,&" he said, adding: &"Prices are dropping before a ball has even been kicked.&"

Big-box deals ahead of the tournament, which starts on Friday (9 June), have been similar to those normally seen at Christmas. Asda has been offering two boxes of either Budweiser, Strongbow, Stella Artois, Carlsberg and Foster&'s for £16, which works out at roughly 14p per 100ml.

Asda has also been offering a football-themed deal at £19.66 for two packs of 15 440ml-cans of Stella Artois - with the price representing the year of the last, and only, time England won the World Cup (1966).

Morrisons is offering two packs for £14 or £16 with Tesco also offering a range of deals, including two for £16 on some brands.

Somerfield, which famously angered brewers last summer with a two boxes for £14 deal (The Grocer, 9 July 2005, p64) is offering three for £10 on four- and six-packs of various brands, including Stella Artois, Beck&'s and Kronenbourg.

Gerken called for retailers to come up with different ways of creating value in promotions. &"It concerns me that aggressive prices at times of such peak demand take so much value out of the category.
&"We felt our &'Have a Flutter&' promotion with was a different way that we could promote beer throughout the football event, and the reaction to this was positive.&"

The promotion is Scottish & Newcastle&'s ­biggest yet, offering consumers millions of pounds worth of free football bets on promotional multi-packs of Foster&'s, Kronen­bourg 1664, John Smith&'s Extra and Strongbow.
Sonya Hook