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UK Christmas Champagne price war begins early

Christmas price offers on Champagne in UK supermarkets have started early, and could be even fiercer than usual in 2013, as Tesco's wine category manager says the group has a 'strong plan' in place.

Tesco wine category manager Laura Jewell MW said the retailer has a ‘strong plan’ for Christmas 2013

Deals offering a 25% reduction on all six-bottle purchases of wine and Champagne are set to run until 3 November at Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, with the former’s Antoine de Clevecy brand falling to GBP9.75-a-bottle.

Tesco is offering a 15% reduction for consumers buying 12 bottles or more online, making its De Vallois Brut brand equivalent to GBP11.04-a-bottle.

An early start to the annual discounting culture on Champagne, mixed with several historically steep price cuts, reflects an intense battle for drinkers’ disposable income this Christmas.

Overall UK consumer confidence is rising, according to the latest spending power index from Lloyds Bank, yet its report also shows energy bills increasing year-on-year and wage rises lagging inflation.

Tesco, for one, is looking to compete harder in Champagne in the 2013 festive season. Speaking at the retailer’s autumn press tasting last week, wine category development manager Laura Jewell MW said that Tesco ‘performed in-line with the Champagne category last year, so we are not unhappy with that, but we lost a bit of share.

‘This year we have a very strong plan for Christmas. These last two months of the year are very important for Champagne sales and the [supermarket] retailers are all fighting to keep their share while the major brands are also competing with each other.’

Jewell expects more strong deals to emerge soon across the sector. Upmarket retailer Waitrose is expected to start a 25% discount on its whole wine aisle from 30 October, and rival Marks & Spencer is also running a 25%-off deal on Champagne for the three weeks to 17 November.

Among the brands, Heidsieck Monopole and Nicolas Feuillatte have been selling for GBP15 and GBP18 per bottle respectively at Asda, while Piper-Heidsieck was at GBP15.74 in Morrisons.

Written by Giles Fallowfield

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