Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King last night hit back at critics who accuse supermarkets of damaging the UK high street, describing their criticisms as “tubthumping”

King, who was giving the BRC’s annual lecture in London, said that most of those who attacked the supermarkets were generally driven by competitive motives, and said supermarkets needed to do more to demonstrate the good they do in local communities.

“Most of the noise around this issue is driven by competition,” he told the audience. “The industry has a really positive story to tell and we shouldn’t allow that kind of tubthumping without challenging it”. He added that when a grocery retailer opens in a town centre, it drives footfall and other retailers tend to cluster around it. He highlighted Sainsbury’s work in Castle Vale in Birmingham as an example of where supermarkets are regenerating areas other business won’t generally go near.

This week the government appointed Mary Portas, a vocal critic of the supermarkets, to advise on the future of the high street.

King used his speech to explain how the supermarkets’ work around sustainability fitted into David Cameron’s concept of the Big Society.