Tesco’s testimony to an Irish parliamentary committee investigating grocery prices has provoked a row with the Musgrave Group and prompted threats of legal action.
Musgrave, which owns the SuperValu and Centra franchises, has challenged Tesco’s claim its prices are significantly cheaper than those at SuperValu and Centra, describing it as “false, misleading and very damaging to the brands”.
In solicitors’ letters sent to Tesco, Musgrave has demanded to see details of the research that led it to tell the committee SuperValu prices were on average 5% more expensive than Tesco’s over 3,000 products, while Centra was 29% dearer across 500 items.
Tesco’s solicitors claimed the information was “statistically accurate” and that Tesco was refusing to provide details of the research, as it was “both internal and private”. A further exchange of letters has failed to resolve the issue.
Musgrave chief executive Seamus Scally has now written to the parliamentary committee chairman disputing the Tesco comparisons and demanding that the figures be removed from the official record. He claimed the Tesco-SuperValu price difference was less than 1%, while Centra was 3-14% dearer than Tesco.
A spokesman for Musgrave Group said it was awaiting a reply from the committee before deciding what further action to take. The committee is investigating why groceries in the Republic are more expensive than in the UK or the continental Eurozone.
Dunnes Stores has refused to participate.