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Coop cuts prices as supermarket war rages

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Coop cuts prices as supermarket war rages
Christopher Macsurak
14:29 CEST+02:00
Competition among Switzerland's largest retailers is heating up, with Coop following the lead of Migros in announcing price cuts on 700 international branded products as part of its bid to pass on euro currency exchange gains to customers.

Following Coop’s decision on August 14th to boycott 95 "overpriced" products by removing them from its shelves, Migros announced on Tuesday that it would cut the prices of 500 products as of next week.

Now Coop has said it will reduce the prices of 700 popular products from 55 manufacturers, starting this Saturday. 

“Coop will maintain its lead by enabling Swiss consumers to profit from cheaper prices from Saturday," the retailer said in a statement.

"These price cuts have been possible thanks to successful negotiations with suppliers."

Coop also welcomed the return of Uncle Ben’s to its range. The retailer was especially criticized by Swiss consumers for removing their favourite products.

Consumers told Swiss television they “should be able to decide whether or not to buy a product, even if it is expensive.”

Retail expert and business professor at the University of Zürich, Ruedi Ergenzinger, told newspaper 20 Minuten: “The boycott by Coop opened the door for other retailers."

Ergenzinger said he assumed that Coop's management had taken tougher bargaining stances than their colleagues at Migros: “Coop did not want to stand around and wait any longer so they sent a clear sign to manufacturers, showing that they were willing to stand up to them.”  

Coop spokesman Roy Bula seemed to accept Ergenzinger's view that the retailer's competitors had been among the beneficiaries of its hardline stance.

“We assume that all Swiss retailers, and therefore also Swiss consumers, are profiting from our boycott”, he said.

A “success announcement” on the Coop website says:

“Coop goes further for its customers. We are constantly renegotiating lower prices for our branded goods, and passing on these successful price cuts to you. And the fight goes on…for fair prices at any price.”

In response, Migros spokeswoman Martina Bosshard said the company had reached a deal with suppliers following negotiations that had begun in early July. 

She noted that political pressure had also played its part, while conceding that suppliers had not fulfilled all of the company's demands.

“Therefore negotiations will continue. We understand that some consumers were expecting bigger reductions. Migros wants to reduce prices further. At the end of the day, we want to make it less attractive for consumers to shop over the border.”

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