Somerfield backs down over Co-op spat

SOMERFIELD has been forced into an embarrassing apology over an aggressive bid to seize market share from its rival, Co-op.The supermarket chain has withdrawn its "Co-op Flock Off" campaign, which offered managers £5,000 incentives to force the closure of Co-op stores.

SOMERFIELD has been forced into an embarrassing apology over an aggressive bid to seize market share from its rival, Co-op.

The supermarket chain has withdrawn its "Co-op Flock Off" campaign, which offered managers £5,000 incentives to force the closure of Co-op stores.

After the unprecedented campaign was highlighted by The Evening Star, Somerfield issued an apology to customers and promptly withdrew it.

"Somerfield regrets any offence that may have been caused by the unauthorised circulation of a document outlining a recent stores campaign," Somerfield spokesman Pete Williams said.

"The document involved was intended to be light-hearted and was meant for Somerfield employees only.

"The campaign described in this document has been reviewed and subsequently withdrawn."

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While Somerfield insists the campaign, which was based around Co-op television advertising campaign featuring animated sheep characters, was light-hearted, Co-op bosses were not convinced.

"It's most unusual for a national multiple retailer like Somerfield to

make such a public climb-down," Ipswich and Norwich Co-op chief executive Richard Samson said.

"The Evening Star should be applauded for highlighting Somerfield's appalling anti-Co-op campaign – its recent front page story has clearly put pressure on Somerfield to reconsider its position."

He added: "The Somerfield chairman has every reason to be embarrassed at the desperate nature of his company culture being exposed in detail to the

shopping public."

The confidential "Flock Off" campaign, complete with an image of a Co-op sheep being hung, aimed to "silence the lambs" by winning back customers and forcing 200 Co-op stores throughout the country to close.

Among those were stores at Saxmundham, Southwold and Halstead.

Weblink: www.co-op.co.uk, www.somerfield.plc.uk

N What do you think of the "Flock Off" campaign? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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