A survey carried out by the main Irish opposition party, Fine Gael, found that on a random selection of five items, Tesco’s prices were on average 43% higher in the Republic. The items bought (with the Irish price difference in brackets) were: Washing powder (+56%), cheddar cheese (+40%), razor blades (+87%), ice cream (+43%) and Robbie Williams CD (+24%).
The party’s deputy leader, Richard Bruton, claimed the message from the survey, which had similar findings against Habitat and Argos, was that “Irish consumers are being ripped off by some UK chain stores”. However, in surveys at Marks and Spencer and Dixons prices were virtually identical in both jurisdictions, he said. “So there is no obvious reason for the rip-off,” he added.
But Tesco dismissed the survey as “highly selective and dangerously misleading”, claiming it relied on five items from a store selection of 25,000. It also pointed to “significant cost differences” between the two countries on wages, taxes, transport/distribution and supplier prices.
It asked why Fine Gael had not surveyed prices in the Musgrave-owned Budgens stores in the UK and compare them with those charged in the Republic by the Musgrave’s SuperValu and Centra chains. Tesco claimed its prices were 2% cheaper than Dunnes and 5% below those of SuperValu.