British supermarket Waitrose commits 100 million stg to price cuts

FILE PHOTO: A Waitrose delivery vehicle drives along the M6 motorway near Knutsford, northern England.

LONDON (Reuters) - Upmarket British supermarket group Waitrose said it will spend 100 million pounds ($122 million) to cut prices on over 300 own-brand products as it fights to retain customers amid record industry inflation.

After a tough 2022, British consumers are facing an even tighter squeeze on their finances this year. Inflation is running at over 10%, mortgage rates are rising and the government is cutting back support on household energy bills.

Waitrose, part of the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership, said on Wednesday it was cutting the prices of products ranging from British carrots and frozen peas to Fairtrade tea and British sausages.

It said nearly a quarter of the reductions would be 20% or more.

“We understand that getting value for money has never been more important for everyone," James Bailey, executive director for Waitrose said.

Monthly industry data has consistently shown Waitrose losing market share and underperforming rivals including industry leader Tesco and No. 2 Sainsbury's, as well as German-owned discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Last month researcher Kantar said Waitrose had a UK grocery market share of 4.7%, down 0.4 percentage points year-on-year.

Weekly pricing data from industry publication The Grocer also regularly shows Waitrose to be the most expensive of Britain's major grocers for a basket of goods.

Kantar said British grocery inflation hit a record 16.7% in January, with prices rising fastest for essential products such as milk, butter, cheese, eggs, dog food and toilet rolls.

($1 = 0.8220 pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Mark Potter)