Morrisons could be set to trigger a supermarket price war as it slashed the price on thousands of every day products.
The Bradford-based grocer is slashing an average of 18 per cent from 1,045 products – including hundreds of core grocery and dairy items.
The move comes as the chain’s chief executive David Potts told The Yorkshire Post that the retailer had not seen any significant change in consumer behaviour since the Brexit vote and the recent hot weather.
Mr Potts said: “Since Brexit people have been expecting inflation to put prices up.
“So to reduce prices is a good thing and it is particularly helpful for families as the summer holidays get underway.
“The idea is that we do become more competitive over time. It is one of the priorities for the business.
“For our consumers, many of whom are on a budget, price is critically important.”
The price cut comes as Morrisons continues to turn the business around from a challenging few years during which time it lost market share and initiated a restructure.
The chain reports to the city next month and will be hoping to make it the third successive quarter in which it has reported growth.
“It is important we do our job,” he said.
“The idea that we might become more competitive is easier to write down but harder to achieve.”
Mr Potts also refused to rule out further price cuts and would not be drawn on whether he anticipated other stores firing the starting gun on price cuts.
“That’s a question for them, isn’t. What’s important is we work with the grain of our own customers, it truly is.
“You have to drive efficiencies, you have to drive productivity and work with the supply chain around volume to essentially justify further price cuts.
“It is important we concentrate on what we are doing and what our colleagues say and our customers say, rather than what our competitors say.”
The prospect of higher food prices was raised continuously during the EU referendum but Mr Potts was insistent that store activity had not altered in the six weeks since the leave vote.
“We have not really discerned any change in consumer behaviour. Consumer activity in our stores hasn’t altered. Commercial activity post-Brexit I cannot comment on. We have guided to spend £400 to £450m a year on cap -ex, refurbishing stores and technology. We are pressing on with this.”
Mr Potts also had warm words to say on the so-called Northern Powerhouse initiative, saying more had to be done to overcome the imbalance of the UK economy.
“I think anything that amplifies the strength of the north of England is very important. I am a big supporter of that.
“We employ thousands of people in Yorkshire, we have 58 stores and big manufacturing units. We are a big employer in Lancashire and the north east.
“The idea that with within a few hundred metres in London you can see more cranes than you can in the whole of Humberside tells me there is an imbalance and as such we need more investment here.”
With a fresh commitment to value for money and local food, The Yorkshire Post put it to Mr Potts that the firm was adopting a ‘back-to-basics’ approach to business.
“The business will always learn masses from Sir Ken Morrison. Traditional values, modern methods is crucial to the future of this company.
“We are a value proposition. We are not Louis Vutton, we are Morrisons. And therefore price is really important to consumers and for those who may return to Morrisons, and I believe they will.”