Asda owners Issa brothers plan major prices overhaul with Just Essentials range launch

The billionaire Asda brothers are planning a major overhaul of Asda’s prices with the launch of a new Just Essentials range, according to reports.

Mohsin and Zuber Issa, from Blackburn, have given its own-label suppliers just four weeks to support the launch. It is part of a price repositioning by the brothers who bought the supermarket giant from Walmart in a £ 6.8billion deal last year.

The Grocer said around 300 products will be included in the new range, including beans, bread, crisps and biscuits. There will also be non-food products such as washing-up liquid and powder.

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It has been described as a “bold” move by Asda bosses as they aim to target price-sensitive customers amid the deepening cost-of-living crisis. The company stressed that it wanted to emphasize the quality as well as competitiveness of its range. However, the speed of the planned rollout of the range has reportedly stunned suppliers, some of whom have questioned whether it is possible to launch such a proposition with only a matter of weeks’ notice.

In a presentation to suppliers seen by The Grocer, the supermarket also revealed plans for a wider reset which will see a major range simplification – even though it already slashed thousands of SKUs (stock keeping units) since the pandemic began – as well as the rollout of its new Asda Rewards loyalty card following trials in 16 stores.

The moves follow claims that Asda has lost its price competitiveness and been overshadowed by the discounters as well as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, with critics including celebrity chef Jack Monroe. Asda said it would be contacting suppliers about the launch of the new range and holding talks with own-label suppliers about how it will impact on their product line-up.

Experts predict the new range will replace Asda’s Smart Price range, echoing Tesco’s move to phase out its Everyday Value range, although that was replaced by a house of tertiary own-label brands.

Asda VP of own-brand Sam Dickson said in the presentation: “Just Essentials by Asda is an extensive new range of over 300 products. It’s a bold, upbeat and positive brand. The plan was to launch this through May, June and July. But we want to do it faster because it’s really important for our customers that we are with them all the way. “

As well as challenging suppliers to respond to its new range launch, it has also kicked off a wider range review across all categories as well as a simplified promotions strategy. It said the reset would “further simplify our range and modulars”, ensuring there were no more than three iterations of the same product and no product promoted more than three times in any 12-month period.

“The timeline is rapid, delivering a minimum of two reviews a week between April and August,” it said.

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