Leaders from the UK’s big four supermarkets embroiled in the bid for rival chain Safeway have publicly pledged to lower prices, create jobs, enhance competition and increase consumer choice.

Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy told the Competition Commission hearing in the City that it would cut Safeway’s prices by 11% across a broad range of products in stores converted to Tesco. And that it would also create 5,000 jobs if given given approval to buy Safeway.

Sainsbury group chief executive, Sir Peter Davis, said prices at Safeway stores would come down were Sainsbury successful in a bid. However, the true benefit of a Sainsbury takeover would be enhanced quality and choice."This is a unique opportunity to enhance competition and choice," said Sir Peter. "We are in favour of low prices - but not to the exclusion of everything else."
He also claimed a Sainsbury takeover would be the least disruptive for suppliers as there was such a high degree of overlap in the supply base. "Over 80% of suppliers to Safeway also supply Sainsbury. I do not believe that degree of overlap exists with the other bidders.”

Sir Ken Morrison said his northern-based chain was keen to extend its “least cost, best value” approach countrywide, “enhancing local competition”. He believed consumers would then have “a fourth very distinctive shopping option”. And concluded that only Morrisons with Safeway was capable of delivering a value-based challenge to the “big three”.

Asda boss Tony DeNunzio said he could not hope to satisfy shoppers' "pent up demand" for the Asda offer through organic growth. A successful bid from Asda would enhance competition and lower prices as competitors were forced to raise their game to compete with Asda, he added. "Our acquisition of Safeway would enhance competition at a local level."

The Competition Commission inquiry, headed by Sir Derek Morris is due to report its findings by August 12.