Tesco continues to be squeezed in the middle

TESCO’S attempts to attract more up-market customers have failed to stem the loss of business to rival grocers, according to industry figures released yesterday.

The business remains by far Britain’s biggest supermarket, with a 30.2 per cent market share in the 12 weeks to 15 September, but the figure was 30.9 per cent a year earlier, data from Kantar Worldpanel revealed.

Tesco is one of the “big four” supermarkets – alongside Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – that are faced with the dual threat posed by Marks & Spencer and Waitrose at the top end of the market and discount stores Aldi and Lidl at the other.

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Tesco has recently tried to bolster its up-market credentials by a promotion for its premium Finest range, sponsoring ITV period drama Downton Abbey. The brand saw double digit growth over the period – as did Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference offering – but it failed to halt the march of Waitrose, which improved its market share from 4.6 per cent to 4.9 per cent.

Tesco, which is due to announce interim results next week, is under pressure to improve amid a 
£1 billion turnaround plan. Its latest trading update showed like-for-like sales fell 1 per cent in the first quarter to 25 May.

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The new industry figures showed that, among the big four, only Sainsbury’s gained market share, improving from 16.4 per cent to 16.6 per cent, while Asda slipped from 17.6 per cent to 17.3 per cent and Morrisons fell from 11.4 per cent to 11.1 per cent. Aldi rose from 2.9 per cent to 3.7 per cent and Lidl was up from 2.8 per cent to 3 per cent.