Sainsbury’s is refusing to give up its fight against Tesco’s Price Promise and is taking the Advertising Standards Authority’s decision to clear ads for the scheme to a Judicial Review.
Sainsbury’s complained to the ASA earlier this year that ads for Tesco’s scheme – which compares the price of branded and own-label lines at Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda – did not make fair own-label comparisons. The ASA threw out the complaint in July, only for Sainsbury’s to appeal the decision in August. However, earlier this month independent reviewer Sir Hayden Phillips rejected the appeal.
Today, Sainsbury’s said it would take the ASA to a Judicial Review so that customers could make shopping decisions based on “all relevant factors including ethics, provenance and price”.
“Tesco says that whether, for example, a product is Fairtrade or MSC certified is just a ‘minor part’ of a customer’s considerations – especially for value products. We disagree”
Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s
Sainsbury’s added that the Judicial Review would also question “Tesco’s policy of including only the product characteristics it sees fit to include in Price Promise – factors that vary from line to line depending on what seems to suit Tesco best”.
It is the first time Sainsbury’s has resorted to a Judicial Review outside property planning matters. The review is expected to be heard in the High Court next summer.
Sainsbury’s commercial director Mike Coupe said Sainsbury’s had “pages and pages” of product comparisons that it felt were “not fair and reasonable” with the number of products stretching “possibly into the thousands”. Examples include Sainsbury’s Basics water, which is sourced from a spring in Yorkshire, and Tesco’s Everyday Value water, which Sainsbury’s claimed is from mains supply.
He also said the retailer had the support of bodies such as the Fairtrade Foundation, the MSC and the NFU.
“It’s time to take a stand on behalf of the huge majority of customers who want to make fair comparisons when they shop,” Coupe added.
“Tesco says that whether, for example, a product is Fairtrade or MSC certified is just a ‘minor part’ of a customer’s considerations – especially for value products. We disagree.
“More than ever, customers want to let their values guide them and in price-matching its products with ours, Tesco is – when it sees fit – choosing to ignore factors such as ethical and provenance certification or even country of origin. We think that’s wrong and we’re pretty sure our customers do too,” he said.
The retailer also released the results of a new survey based on the views of 993 supermarket shoppers, which found 86% agreed ‘supermarket price comparisons should clearly state whether they take ethical production standards into consideration when matching prices’.
Some 83% said country of origin should be taken into consideration; 89% welfare standards; 88% working conditions of producers; and 87% British produce.
However, Tesco UK marketing director David Wood said: “Sainsbury’s argument against Price Promise has been heard and rejected twice already.
“Tesco Price Promise offers customers reassurance on the price of their whole shop, in store and online, not just the big brand products. When family budgets are under pressure, that is the kind of help customers want and the real question for Sainsbury’s is why they aren’t trying to do the same for their customers.”