Waitrose invests £100m to cut prices of hundreds of its own-brand Essential range

The supermarket will invest £100m to reduce the prices of a quarter of its lowest-priced Essential range by 20% or more

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Waitrose has announced it will invest £100 million in cutting prices on hundreds of its own-brand products.

The supermarket will reduce the prices of almost a third of its lowest-priced Essential Waitrose range by an average 14%. A quarter of its lowest-costing range will be reduced in price by more than 20%. The price reductions will come into effect from Wednesday (15 February).

The announcement comes after grocery price inflation hit a record 16.7% high in the four weeks to 22 January – the highest level since analysts Kantar started tracking the figure in 2008.

It also comes after households are now facing an extra £788 on their annual shopping bills if they shop at local convenience stores.

Waitrose executive director James Bailey said: “We understand that getting value for money has never been more important for everyone. So we’re cutting the prices of hundreds of everyday favourites from carrots to butter, and tea and coffee, with many cut by 20% or more.”

The retailer said it was committed to maintaining its commitments to its farmers and suppliers despite the cuts to shelf prices.

Competition in the British grocery sector “is as intense as it’s ever been” as retailers do all they can to retain shoppers, Kantar said.

Grocers have been boosting their own-label ranges with sales of these lines growing consistently over the past nine months.

Sales of own-label ranges increased by 9.3% in January – well ahead of branded alternatives which were up by just 1%.

Waitrose held 4.7% of the grocery market share to 22 January, while Aldi was found to be the fastest growing grocer for the fourth month in a row. Its sales were 26.9% higher year-on-year and hold 9.2% of the market. Lidl’s sales jumped by 24.1% putting its market share at 7.1%.

The price of basic groceries such as butter, milk and cheese went up 30% year-on-year at some supermarkets in December, according to tracking by consumer group Which?.

Overall food and drink inflation reached 15% in December across the eight major supermarkets with butters and spreads rising by an “astonishing” 29.4%.

Milk was 26.3% more expensive than a year before, while cheese, bakery items, water, and savoury pies, pastries and quiches also saw higher-than-average price increases.

Which? head of food policy Sue Davies said: “We know food prices have risen exponentially in the last year and our inflation tracker shows the dramatic impact this is having on everyday products at the supermarket. Some households are already skipping meals to make ends meet.

“Supermarkets must do more. Which? is calling for them to ensure everyone has easy access to basic, affordable food ranges at a store near them, particularly in areas where people are most in need, as well as pricing which enables people to easily work out best value and promotions to support people who are particularly struggling.”

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