UK’s third-largest supermarket chain, Asda Stores Ltd., is reportedly facing a legal battle with high-end supermarket chain, Waitrose, after unveiling a new cut-price grocery range with a similar name to that of the latter’s discount range.
Waitrose has supposedly sent a legal letter to Asda, stating that its new brand name, ‘Just Essential’, is similar to its own ‘Essential Waitrose’ brand, which it has been using for almost 13 years.
A Waitrose spokesperson stated that the group was surprised on hearing Asda launching an essentials range while the group has been using the Essential Waitrose name since 2009, and built a strong reputation for its value, quality, and high welfare standards.
The spokesperson further added that Waitrose has protected the name as a trademark and has accordingly raised the issue, adding that it is waiting for Asda's response.
However, an Asda spokesperson stated that the word essentials is generic and commonly used by retailers for describing value product ranges.
Asda, following a 42% rise in its profits, will be launching its £45 million ($59 million) cut-price range in May. The new grocery chain would be selling a catalogue of around 300 items ranging from fresh meat, poultry, and fish, to frozen items, household essentials, and cupboard staples like canned tomatoes.
The supermarket chain credited the surge in sales to a strong trade in clothing, gardening kits, and homewares following an abysmal 2020 due to pandemic-driven disruptions. However, the retailer is currently facing severe competition from rival discount chains Lidl and Aldi, that have now become the cheapest option for groceries instead of the Asda.
After the Issa brothers took over Asda last year, the chain saw a 0.6% rise in sales in 2021, but a 2.9% fall in the fourth quarter from the same period the previous year. While it was better than its rival Sainsbury, UK’s second-largest chain, which recorded a 5.3% drop. Meanwhile, Tesco, UK’s largest supermarket chain, saw a 0.6% rise in sales in the same period.
The retailer, which hiked its prices by around 5% to grapple with increasing food inflation, said that the full range will be available in all of its stores including online, and will gradually replace its current budget range Smart Price.