Retail news round-up on August 26, 2015: ASA dismisses Aldi’s complaint against Morrisons and John Lewis claims to knock Ikea off top spot.

Retail Week Breakfast Briefing

ASA dismisses Aldi’s complaint against Morrisons’ price-match scheme

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled in favour of Morrisons, dismissing rival Aldi’s complaint that the supermarket’s price-match scheme was unfair.

The German discounter made four complaints to the advertising watchdog about the way Morrisons had advertised the Match & More loyalty scheme that launched last year.

The ASA said that the grocer “did not misleadingly omit information or give a misleading impression of how the price match scheme worked”, and that “the products were matched in line with consumer expectations”.

The regulator has ordered Morrisons to clarify the way it compares prices with other supermarkets under its loyalty scheme.

It has told the supermarket retailer to clearly tell shoppers where they could get details on how points relating to the scheme had been awarded for a specific shop, including which products from their shopping list had been compared with which competitor.

John Lewis claims to overtake Ikea as biggest homeware retailer

John Lewis’s managing director Andy Street has said that the chain will kick Ikea off top spot within four years after investing £14m to overhaul its flagship Oxford Street store.

Street has warned the Swedish company that the department store is on course to assume its place as the UK’s biggest home and furniture retailer.

Speaking in the store, he said: “If you look at the trading results for the last five years, ever since the recession really, we have gained market share significantly.

“Now we are clearly second in the market behind Ikea – and clearly first in lots of categories – but we will overtake Ikea. I am not sure exactly when, but I am more than happy to predict it will be within the next four years, at the pace we are closing the gap at the moment.”

He claimed the refurbishment of the home department in the Oxford Street store will throw down the gauntlet to John Lewis’s rivals and make it the “best in the world”.

However, Street denied that the company was simply trying to beat Ikea by upgrading its home department.

M&S and WH Smith charge double for goods in hospital shops

An investigation has revealed that WH Smith and Marks & Spencer are routinely charging customers up to 50% more for goods in hospital shops compared with their stores on the high street.

The two retailers have been accused of exploiting a captive market by making hospital patients and their visitors pay more for the same items, including £7 price increases on flowers and “get well soon” cards costing nearly double the price elsewhere.

The Times gathered price comparisons from ten hospitals in eight cities across Britain and found that it was more expensive to buy items such as snacks, sandwiches, bottled water and stationery from the hospital branches of WH Smith and Marks & Spencer.

The duo have blamed higher running costs, associated with higher rents and staff wages for longer opening hours, but patients and campaigners said that the prices were immoral.