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Tesco boss tells UK shoppers not to panic buy after new COVID curbs

·1-min read
Dave Lewis, Tesco CEO, speaks at the the British Chamber of Commerce annual conference in London
Dave Lewis, Tesco CEO, speaks at the the British Chamber of Commerce annual conference in London

LONDON (Reuters) - There is no need for shoppers to panic buy grocery supplies after Britain imposed new restrictions to stem a second wave of COVID-19, the boss of Tesco, the country's biggest supermarket chain, said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the British people on Tuesday to work from home where possible and ordered restaurants and bars to close early to tackle a spike in the pandemic, with new restrictions lasting probably six months.

That prompted speculation over whether there could be panic buying of groceries similar to that which stripped supermarket shelves bare in March and led to the rationing of certain items.

However, Tesco Chief Executive Dave Lewis said there was no need as food supplies were plentiful.

"The message would be one of reassurance. I think the UK saw how well the food industry managed last time, so there's very good supplies of food," he told Sky News on Wednesday.

"We just don't want to see a return to unnecessary panic buying because that creates a tension in the supply chain that's not necessary. And therefore we would just encourage customers to continue to buy as normal."

Lewis said he did anticipate there would be some small increases in stockbuilding within UK homes.

On Tuesday the CEO of Aldi UK, Britain's fifth largest supermarket group, e-mailed customers to reassure them.

"Our stores remain fully stocked and ask that you continue to shop considerately. There is no need to buy more than you usually would," said Giles Hurley.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Michael Holden and Estelle Shirbon)