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Festive fizz price war looms

Published:  23 July, 2008

By Giles Fallowfield
It looks like the UK's grocers will once more use cheap Champagne as a weapon in their fight to win business from competitors in the run-up to Christmas.

Despite a general hardening in prices for the big-name brands over the past 18 months or so, reflecting strong worldwide demand for Champagne, a raft of 'half-price' offers have appeared in early November.

Both Tesco and Sainsbury's have such deals - the former in its stores with Rene Florency Brut NV, down 10 to 13.99 (13.29 if you buy six bottles or more), running for three weeks until 28 November; the latter to date only on its website where there are currently two cut-price offers: Charles Joubert NV Brut available at 68.97 for six bottles (down from 137.94 and equivalent to a price of 11.49 a bottle) and GH Martel Brut NV cut from 21.84 a bottle to just 11.84 or 71.04 for a six-bottle case.

Tesco also has several deals on its website, the most attractive of which is a six-bottle case of Perrier Jout Grand Brut NV for 100, which works out at 16.67 a bottle, and continues until 1 January.

Action in the market, where the Co-op has announced a very competitive price on Piper-Heidsieck Brut NV (down from 21.99 to 14.66 from 13 November to 3 December) and Jacquart Ros (down from 22.99 to 15.33, same period) and Majestic has six 'half-price' deals, appears to have influenced Marks & Spencer in improving its offer, which was initially announced as 5 off its entire Champagne range from 30 October until 31 December.

M&S has increased the discount on its Louis Chaurey line, which was due to be sold at 14.99 but now bears a far leaner 9.99 price tag.

Morrisons, too, is said to be poised with a 'half-price' deal on new listing Charles de Villers that was introduced in stores last month at a full price of 23.99.

In next week's Harpers, Giles Fallowfield looks in detail at the pattern of Champagne discounting in the UK off-trade.