Founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou says the flotation will lead let him 'step back' from the company
Founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou unveiled a mock-up of the easyFood stores.Reuters

EasyJet entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou has unveiled plans for low-cost food stores aimed at people "on benefits" and in poorly-paid jobs.

Employing the no-frills service style of his bargain easyJet flights and windowless rooms at the easyHotel, the easyFoodstore budget supermarket will sell low-cost, unbranded food in disadvantaged areas.

Describing the new venture, a spokesman for the company said: "EasyFoodstore is looking to open in deprived parts of south-east London which fit our demographic, who will either be on benefits or in low-paid or zero-hour jobs."

The budget produce will have plain white labels, with all items costing an average of 50p. Baked beans could cost under 20p, threatening to trigger a price war between the budget stores and supermarkets. The stores will sell frozen and dried food, but will only stock a limited range of fresh items such as milk, bread and "maybe apples and oranges". There will be no alcohol or cigarettes.

A mock-up of the store was unveiled in an office block in Croydon this week with orange posters saying: "No expensive brands, just honestly priced."

Stelios hopes the easyFoodstore will become the UK's first cashless supermarket, with customers paying by debit or credit card, or an Oyster card-style system where they top-up a payment card online or at the Post Office.

The firm claims that "the demise of benefits received by Giro cheques means the vast majority of benefits recipients all have to have bank accounts" and therefore will have cards. Cash is considered more expensive for the business to process.

With low-cost food and limited overheads, easyFoodstore staff may receive low wages, as the budget food store attempts to compete with discount chains such as Aldi and Lidl.

"We are aiming to be a low-cost supermarket so we need to keep costs low, property rent has got to be low, stock prices have got to be low and, inevitably, we will be looking towards the bottom end of the salary scale for employees," said Stelios.

The businessman claims he was inspired to create an ultra-budget store after reading about the growth of food banks in Britain.

The first store had been due to launch this year but has been delayed due to restrictions by Croydon Council. The firm now hopes to open its first shop next summer.