There is no question that this has been a good summer for Sainsbury’s. Despite dismal weather and a challenging economic backdrop, we were able to announce a healthy growth with like-for-like sales of 1.9% at our recent Q2 trading update. This has been a hard-fought success in a competitive market and we believe the investments we made in celebrating the best of 2012, along with great initiatives like Brand Match, have delivered for our customers and business.

Undoubtedly, our belief this was a ‘year like no other’ chimed with the national mood and connected with customers. They embraced our Jubilee activities and our Paralympic sponsorship was widely recognised as a singular success. It was fantastic for our colleagues to be a part of this amazing event and we know that nearly 60% of our customers feel more warmly about Sainsbury’s because of that sponsorship. That is something we really value.

The fundamental driver of strong sales is customer loyalty and there is more than one route to building that. Product quality, values, the in-store shopping experience - these are all vital. But what sets us apart is that we are able to use customer data in a way that cannot be achieved by the competition.

Brand Match, which celebrated its one-year anniversary yesterday (12 October), is an incredibly powerful tool in our efforts to build customer loyalty and is arguably the most important commercial move we have made in the past three years since we decided to step up our online and convenience business.

“Our customers value our values as well as our value guarantee”

We wanted to give our customers confidence in our pricing and value for money and we invested hundreds of millions in establishing a competitive pricing position as part of our turnaround. But a price perception remained.

As a result of Brand Match, the number of customers who believe Sainsbury’s sells branded goods for the same price as other supermarkets has increased by about a third, so it is clearly delivering great results. We have already issued approaching 250 million coupons for what is a genuine, clear and concise offer that our customers clearly appreciate.

Our customers know that if they spend £20 or more, we tot up the prices of the comparable brands in their basket and, if they could have paid less at Tesco or Asda, even when brands are on promotion there, we’ll give them a coupon for the difference. Our research shows that our customers’ enthusiasm for this type of scheme remains undimmed. We’ve demonstrated that we are competitive on price and our customers recognise this.

It is a big commitment on our part but we know that to be able to offer this sort of price confidence, combined with the undisputed quality of our own brand offering, is an essential part of our future growth and success.

In many ways, we use Brand Match as a hygiene factor - by removing our customers’ concerns about price, we allow them to focus on the other areas that help them decide their supermarket of choice. Our customers value our values as well as our value guarantee - Brand Match helps us to deliver both.