Alka-Seltzer gives Asda a headache

Allan Leighton’s first initiative as chief executive of supermarket chain Asda is proving to be something of a headache.

Carrying on in the Archie tradition, the war against the evil drug barons and the Resale Price Maintenance (which means retailers have to charge drug prices set by the companies), Leighton’s latest action is to refuse to implement a price increase on Alka-Seltzer.

The 30-pack of Alka-Seltzer is going up ten per cent, while the number of tablets in a smaller pack is being cut from 12 to ten – equivalent to a 20 per cent price rise. “This double price attack on consumers is enough to give anyone an upset stomach,” Leighton thunders.

“Warner Lambert’s actions show RPM on ordinary healthcare products creates a poor deal for consumers,” he continues.

As the ever observant Diary is delighted to point out, Alka Seltzer is owned, not by Warner Lambert, but by Bayer. It is Bayer that has put in motion the price rise, not Warner Lambert.

Asda counters that it doesn’t really matter – Warner Lambert distributes the brand, and the chain’s contract is with them.

Nice try.

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