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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Giles Fallowfield

Sainsbury's has followed ASDA, Safeway and Tesco in slashing the prices of leading Champagne brands in the second half of December. It has matched Tesco's 6.50 reduction in the price of Veuve Clicquot, bringing the single bottle price down to just 18.99, and cut Laurent-Perrier Ros by a similar amount, to 24.49. While these offers will last until 2 January 2002, Mumm Cordon Rouge (down 5 to 14.49) and Lanson Black Label (down 4 to 14.99) have been reduced for the full four-week trading period, 12 December-9 January 2002. Customers purchasing six bottles or more will get a further 5% discount on all these deals. The cuts in the price of Clicquot are far larger than the brand owner's preferred promotion - 6 off the price of two bottles - and were not paid for by the Champagne house, confirmed Veuve Clicquot's UK MD, John West. It's about the battle between individual retailers, not the competition between Champagne brands,' he said. Champagne is a strongly-branded sector that has, sadly, become part of the battleground in wine retail,' added West. We've demonstrated that Veuve Clicquot doesn't need to be cut in price that much to sell: it's a very strong brand.' Asked about the Clicquot price cut, Sainsbury's Champagne buyer, Andrew Bird, told Harpers: We are not constrained by the support suppliers want to give us. If we think we can grow the category with better offers, we will.' Bird admitted that some of the Clicquot stock was bought on the grey market. If that's how we can offer something more competitive to our customers, we are going to take that advantage. We're traders, we're taking the deals as they come. I'm sure our customers aren't getting upset about it.' Bird added: While the majority of Sainsbury's Christmas Champagne offers were put in place before I came on board [he took over from Julian Dyer in September], we've retained the ability to react to things happening in the market. Sainsbury's has to be competitive and we're not going to let others attack our dominance in the category. The Laurent-Perrier deal is the kind of offer that really appeals to our consumer base,' he said. We sell an amazing amount of the ros and - judging by the figures in front of me - it appears to be going very well.' Tesco, Sainsbury's, ASDA and Safeway have now all discounted the UK's top-selling Champagne marques well beyond the level sponsored by the brand owners. The only significant brand that appears to have escaped the retailers' price war is Bollinger.