Tesco has said it will robustly defend its Price Promise marketing strategy

Tesco has said it will robustly defend its Price Promise marketing strategy

Tesco has said it will "robustly defend" its Price Promise price comparison scheme after rival Sainsbury's was given approval to push ahead with a judicial review.

Sainsbury's requested a judicial review last October after the Advertising Standards Authority's independent reviewer backed the watchdog's dismissal of the retailer's complaints over Price Promise.

In July, the ASA rejected Sainsbury's concerns Tesco was unfairly comparing own label and fresh food through its Price Promise programme, which measures prices between the UK's big four grocers.

In granting the judicial review, the UK's High Court ruled "it is sufficiently arguable that there was an error of law in the ASA's approach to the matching of items for comparison, which error the reviewer failed to identify".

The case will now proceed to a formal hearing in around six months.

Tesco insisted Price Promise, which compares the overall cost of a basket of its branded, own-label and fresh food against products from Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons, did make "fair comparisons" 

"Now that permission for the Judicial Review has been granted, we will robustly defend the way we make fair comparisons between products based on what matters to customers, which has already been approved by the ASA and the Independent Reviewer," a spokesperson for Tesco said.

Sainsbury's had argued it was unfair for Tesco to compare prices on private-label lines when there were differences between the products. Sainsbury's cited its policy of stocking Fairtrade bananas and Tesco's non-Fairtrade version of the fruit. The retailer also pointed to its own-label ham sourced in the UK, compared to Tesco's product, which comes from the EU.

The UK's third-largest grocer believes consumers consider factors other than price when they shop, including ethics and provenance and therefore argues a straight comparison on price is unfair.

Mike Coupe, Sainsbury's commercial director, said the retailer was "delighted" the review would go ahead and reiterated the grocer's opposition to Price Promise.

"We do not believe it is fair to compare own-label products of different supermarkets. Our customers value our values. We strongly believe the quality of our own-label products is better than the immediate competition and this is a position we will fight strongly to protect," Coupe said.

Coupe added: "Values are fundamental to the way we do business and drive everything we do. We know these values matter to our customers and we will do everything in our power to ensure they can make informed choices about what they buy."