Waitrose boss Mark Price has thrown down the gauntlet to the discounters, claiming the upmarket grocer is cheaper than Aldi on its entry price points in five out of 25 product categories.

Price said: “It’s just not true that Aldi and Lidl are the cheapest in the market. In terms of entry prices in categories such as coffee, beer and bread, our prices are lower than Aldi. With beer, for example, our entry price is£1.29 and Aldi’s is£1.39.”

Waitrose total sales for the first half to July 26 were up 5.5 per cent to£2.03 billion and like-for-like food sales were up 2.5 per cent. Underlying operating profit, excluding property profits, was down 3.2 per cent. Operating profit was down 8.4 per cent to£102.7 million.

Over the period, Waitrose invested£30 million in lowering its prices and increased promotional activity to build its value proposition. It has also continued to support British farmers and “either absorbed the increased costs in products such as beef and lamb fully or passed on a small additional cost to customers”. The grocer has also invested£9 million in reformulating products to improve quality.

“We will continue to invest in our pricing in the second half and we are now more competitive than ever with the big four supermarkets,” said Price.

He added that Waitrose is price competitive on all branded lines and will next month start to label those products to highlight its pricing. He said: “We want to tell our customers about our pricing and, while shoppers have always moved around, we are pleased that we have had no defection to Tesco or Sainsbury’s.”

Waitrose has opened three new market town format stores in the first half and Price said he “actively wants to trial” convenience stores, but has yet to confirm plans.