Jag Sanghera, who runs D&S News and Off Licence in London's Shepherd's Bush, thought he had found a good deal for Halls Mentho-Lyptus at the confectionery wholesaler Hancocks. "It was the best price on the market, at £5.99 for 20 tubes," said Jag. "Our regular wholesale price is £7.29, which would have cost us 42.8p. But when I put them on sale for the recommended price of 59p some of the old ladies complained. One said 'you're ripping me off - they're only 26p in Tesco'."
Jag couldn't believe this so he went and checked for himself. It was all too true. Furthermore, it was true for Asda and Waitrose. And the lozenges did not appear to be on special promotion.
Cadbury Trebor Bassett looked into it and said that, as expected, this price promotion was led entirely by Tesco and the other multiples and that CTB's recommended retail prices are the same across both the convenience and grocery sectors.
It would appear that, as this time of year is peak season for colds, the multiples all decided to drop their prices.
Trade communications manager Kate Harding said: "The price Mr Sanghera is referring to was driven by the multiple grocers in question. While manufacturers can recommend retail prices for products, ultimately they do not have control over the price the retailer sets. The recommended retail price for Halls Mentho-Lyptus is 59p."
One sometimes hears about independents buying supplies from supermarkets because they can get certain goods there cheaper than at the cash & carry, and when you see price gaps you could drive a bus through you begin to understand why.
Jag is not considering this tactic but he is concerned about the image he is projecting to his old ladies (who, let's face it, are going to be the biggest fans of Halls Mentho-Lyptus). They will notice these price differentials and will not be swayed by the argument that it is beyond Jag's control.