Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery questions Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, and Sainsbury's executives over price inflation

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery questioned supermarket bosses on whether they have been profiteering from the cost of living crisis at a select committee hearing in Parliament on Tuesday.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

He was questioning executives from Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Morrisons at a hearing of Parliament’s Business and Trade Committee about food and fuel price inflation.

Mr Lavery asked: “Sharon Graham, the general secretary of Unite the Union, has said that the biggest supermarkets in the UK are engaged in a ‘grotesque display of profiteering’ at a time when millions of workers are struggling to put food on the table. What do you say to that?”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Tesco commercial director Gordon Gafa said: “As I said before, the whole group makes 4p in every pound, which is not any example of profiteering. Without customers and without their trade, there is no Tesco.

Ian Lavery MP.Ian Lavery MP.
Ian Lavery MP.

“We have doubled down on our competitiveness. Genuinely, as we said recently in our quarterly update, we are the most competitive we have ever been. We monitor our prices weekly. I get a price index against the whole market. It is the strongest it has been.

“We have made a significant investment in colleagues and customers and we are working collaboratively with suppliers.

Rhian Bartlett, food commercial director at Sainsbury’s, said: “We make less than 3p in the pound. We have also seen profits step back.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“As I said earlier, the input cost pressures we have had have not been reflected fully in shelf-edge prices. We are doing absolutely everything we can.

“We really understand how much customers and colleagues are struggling through this crisis. We are doing absolutely everything we can to make sure we are helping them.

David Potts, CEO at Morrisons, added: “I agree with you that the most important thing we can do for consumers right now is to find ways to lower prices.

“I am not seeing any evidence that the industry is less competitive than it ever was. The earlier answers about profitability probably underline that.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Lavery then said: “This is a time when there are an increasing number of children living in poverty. There was an increase of 50,000 last year in my region.

“The Food Foundation says that in the last 12 months to January 2023 food insecurity for children doubled.

“For the top supermarkets to feel as if they are doing the right thing is, quite frankly, really concerning.”

He continued by quizzing the executives about risk in their supply chain, before asking: “In your Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local stores, the satellite supermarkets, do you sell your own brand? Do you sell your own-brand Savers items in these outlets?”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Bartlett said: “There is lots of own brand in convenience stores. There is not as much of the economy brand, which is what I think you are referring to.

He added: “We range for the mission the customer is shopping that store for. Most customers do their full shop in a supermarket and not in a convenience store.

Mr Lavery also questioned chief commercial officer at Asda, Kris Comerford, on fire and rehire practices as well as a pay equality claim against the supermarket.