Essex

Co-op chain accidentally introduces 20% discount at stores

Roger Grosvenor, East of England Co-op
Image caption Roger Grosvenor from the Co-op said he was "flabbergasted" by the error, which cost the company £43,000

A regional supermarket chain accidentally introduced a 20% discount in all its stores - costing thousands in lost revenue.

The East of England Co-op intended to have the offer at just one shop, in Clacton, starting last Wednesday.

However, computers introduced it at the checkouts of 140 stores across Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.

The error was corrected a day later, but not before the company had lost about £43,000 in revenue.

Shopper Noel Galer spotted something was up when he went to one of the stores at Martham near Great Yarmouth.

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"The checkout assistant noticed my surprise and said they seemed to have a computer fault which was knocking 20% off everything that was going through and they weren't sure whether it was just their shop or not," he said.

"It's always been said that to err is human, but to really mess things up you need a computer and this is a perfect example."

Image caption The 20% discount was inadvertently introduced at all of the East of England Co-op's 140 stores, such as this one on Handford Road, Ipswich

Roger Grosvenor, retail officer for the Co-op, said he was "flabbergasted" because nothing like it had happened before.

"It went viral and we were aware of the problem within an hour and a bit, but I just wanted to know the extent and cause of the problem.

"Unfortunately the computers at our Ipswich headquarters didn't want to play ball, so it took a day and a half to get us back on song.

"No-one's in trouble - it was an honest mistake."

The Co-op said sales were up 4% on the days of the discount, but officials had yet to analyse the figures to see if this was due to the mistake or simply down to the run-up to Christmas.

The 20% discount will continue at the supermarket on Bull Hill Road in Clacton, where it will run until 31 December when the store closes for good.

The offer only applied to cans, bottles and packets, not alcohol, tobacco or fresh food.

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