Sainsbury's backed on price

Sainsbury's customers have backed the grocer's pricing stance in a show of support likely to influence chief executive Justin King's strategy.

The retailer has long been criticised by the City and industry commentators for not being aggressive enough on price.

However, the supermarket group's research has revealed that of 125,000 Sainsbury's shopper surveys analysed so far, 80 per cent of customers see its prices as 'fair'.

Core product categories such as bakery, frozen food and wine were seen as offering good value for money.

Sainsbury's also scored well with customers for quality across food and wine, but shoppers voiced frustration about poor availability.

A spokeswoman said: 'There are definitely some common elements where our customers feel Sainsbury's strengths lie and where they think there is room for improvement.'

Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said Sainsbury's was up to 3 per cent more expensive than Tesco on known value items, and up to 20 per cent more on some lines.

He said: ' The main problem for Sainsbury's is they have allowed the competition to widen the difference on price, and close the difference on non-price issues such as quality and service.'

Sainsbury's research was drawn from 1 million questionnaires that King sent to customers in July, bringing in 250,000 responses.

- Lawrence Christensen, former group operations director at Safeway, is joining Sainsbury's as supply chain director on a 16-month fixed contract. He replaces Martin White, who is leaving.