Blog: Dean BestSainsbury's "revolution in retail"

Dean Best | 10 October 2011

The news kept rolling over the weekend and notable among the headlines was Sainsbury's decision to push its Brand Match scheme across the UK.

The initiative, launched in Northern Ireland in August, compares the price of branded grocery products on sale at Sainsbury's with Tesco and Asda. Speaking to reporters last week, Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King seemed to distance the retailer from an imminent roll out of Brand Match but yesterday's announcement sees the retailer attempt to gain the spotlight in what is becoming an increasingly fierce battle for the UK's deal-chasing consumers.

How will the roll out of Brand Match affect consumer behaviour? On Wednesday, when Sainsbury's announced its second-quarter and first-half sales, King said he preferred to "keep his counsel" on any early results from the initiative (although in yesterday's announcement, Sainsbury's said the scheme had been "overwhelmingly well received"). King did claim, however, that the scheme showed Sainsbury's "won more baskets" against Tesco in the wake of the launch of its rival's Big Price Drop.

Of course, there are questions about just what impact schemes like Brand Match will have.

A pertinent point was made yesterday by Bryan Roberts, director of retail insights at Kantar Worldpanel. "These brand price matches are all well and good but, given that private label is half of many baskets, the actual impact might be limited," he wrote on Twitter.

And, while Sainsbury's, pushes its Brand Match scheme, it is also rolling out a redeveloped core own-label range, By Sainsbury's.

The UK retailer was not the only major grocer to make a significant announcement at the weekend. Yesterday, German retail giant Metro Group revealed that, after weeks of conflicting headlines, CEO Dr Eckhard Cordes would indeed step down when his contract ends next October.

Dr Cordes had seemed to secure the support for an extension to his contract from Metro's major shareholders after speculation that one of them, local conglomerate Haniel, wanted him to leave when his term expired.

In some ways then, yesterday's announcement was a surprise, although the weeks of speculation meant it was not a shock.

It is unclear what has prompted Dr Cordes to not extend his deal but it only adds to the uncertainty at the world's third-largest retailer, which is facing challenges across a number of its divisions.


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