EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, is to launch a low-cost grocery business, aimed at undercutting the likes of budget supermarkets Aldi and Lidl.
Sir Stelios’s Easygroup announced plans to open a pilot site in Croydon, south London, which, if successful, would be extended widely, next year.
The entrepreneur said there was a gap in the food retail market.
The new business, Easyfoodstore, will focus on a limited range of packet and tinned foods.
Recent retail figures on the UK grocery market point to a growing trend of polarisation.
Marks & Spencer and Waitrose do well at the top end, whereas the budget supermarkets, Lidl and Aldi, are seeing strong growth in sales at the budget end.
Sir Stelios said he became aware of an opportunity after seeing the recent widespread publicity concerning food banks.
He said: “Concentrating on affordable, basic ‘no-brand-name’ packet and tinned foods at bargain prices; easyFoodstore underlines the need for additional reliable day-to-day provision of basic foodstuffs. No other details have yet been decided.”
The pilot store is expected to open in a nine-storey commercial property in Croydon, recently acquired by the group. The building is expected to house other Easygroup businesses, including Easygym, Easyhotel and EasyOffice.
He said the business could expand next year by taking advantage of the current slump in property prices to buy up freehold retail sites.
He further added: “I hope that a commercially viable venture offering affordable food will help many people in need as well as producing a viable return for the capital employed.”
The tycoon remains a major shareholder in easyJet but has recently challenged management plans to acquire a fleet of new Airbus aircraft, threatening to take directors to court if the move destroys shareholder value.
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