Tesco is to slash the price of spirits in the run-up to Christmas — despite admitting it is not necessary and is financially damaging, writes Ewan Turney. Supermarket chains have launched a spirits price war as the festive season approaches. Asda is selling one-litre bottles of spirits such as Bell’s, Bacardi, Gordon’s and Smirnoff for £15, or 37.5p per unit. Baileys is being sold half-price — £9.39 for a one-litre bottle — at Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. And branded spirits are being sold at £20 for two in Tesco. But Tesco spirits manager Mark Sudbery told the Metro deep discounting was not necessary at Christmas time. "However, we must continue to be competitive and to provide our customers with offers that are not drastically undercut by discount retailers," he said. Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy has previously backed government action to ban below cost sales of alcohol in supermarkets. However, it favours the definition of below cost as duty plus VAT — which assumes that drinks can be produced and marketed for zero cost.