RIVALS Somerfield have called off their 'store wars' campaign against the Co-op and apologised for any offence caused.
The Co-op 'Flock Off' document which offered bonuses to Somerfield staff and managers to help close a local Co-op store caused widespread outrage in the Movement when it was first exposed by the News two weeks ago.
At the time, Somerfield admitted circulating the 12-page A4 briefing paper internally and said the paper had been intended to `energise` those managers who were in direct competition locally with the Co-op.
However, in a major u-turn the company's chairman John von Spreckelsen now admits the campaign was misguided and unhelpful.
In a reply to a letter sent to him by News reader John D Beasley – who vowed to promote a boycott of Somerfield stores unless the document was withdrawn – Mr Von Spreckelsen says the 'Flock off' campaign was created at a junior level, `albeit with lots of enthusiasm` and reveals that he has spoken to Co-operative Group Chief Executive Martin Beaumont regarding the matter.
Mr Von Spreckelsen wrote: `I advised him (Martin Beaumont) that this campaign has been a embarrassment to Somerfield and is not to be repeated.`
The Somerfield chief thanked Mr Beasley for his letter and said he had not been the only person to contact him about the campaign.
A statement released to the News by the company's Head of PR, Pete Williams, said: `Somerfield regrets any offence that may have been caused by the unauthorised circulation of a document outlining a recent stores campaign.
`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`The campaign described in this document has been reviewed and subsequently withdrawn.`