Sainsbury’s steals march on Tesco with launch of new phone service

Sainsbury’s became the first UK supermarket to launch a fixed-line phone service today (June 18), beating rival Tesco, which is expected to launch its service later this year.

It was announced in April that Sainsbury’s was teaming up with The Carphone Warehouse, which will run its new Homephone service and its mobile phone operation. Sainsbury’s marketing manager Russell Morris will oversee marketing of the telephone business.

The move by the supermarkets and The Carphone Warehouse into fixed-line services puts added pressure on the market dominance of BT, which supplies 73 per cent of UK households. BT’s position is already under threat from cable operators NTL and Telewest Broadband.

Sainsbury’s claims that it can save customers up to 50 per cent on all local and national calls, and up to 15 per cent on calls to mobile phones, compared with BT’s standard tariff.

Sara Weller, Sainsbury’s deputy managing director, says: “Consumers have been paying too much for telephone calls for too long. We are offering cheaper telephone calls along with the weekly shop. Customers can keep their line rental and BT services and get better rates on calls from us. If we cannot prove we are cheaper than BT we will give customers &£500.”

Sainsbury’s is offering customers two Nectar points for every pound spent on calls.

Tesco is due to unveil its fixed-line service, which will be operated by Cable & Wireless, in July (MW January 30). Earlier this month the supermarket said it was joining forces with mm02 to launch a Tesco-branded mobile phone service.

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