Asda has cut the price of Savlon Antiseptic cream by half to make a point about price-fixing within the healthcare industry, which it criticises as a “rip off”.
Savlon Antiseptic, distributed by Novartis Consumer Health, is free from the practice known as resale price maintenance (RPM), unlike another Savlon product, Savlon Wound Wash, which must be sold at a fixed price.
Asda wants to draw attention to these inconsistencies and yesterday (Tuesday) put up posters in its 217 stores saying: “It’s a rip off. We think price-fixing should be abolished. Isn’t it funny how this (Savlon Wound Wash) is price-fixed? Isn’t it funny how this (Savlon Antiseptic) isn’t?”
Asda staff in the healthcare aisles also wore badges saying “It’s a rip off! Ask me about price fixing”.
Asda will sell Novartis Consumer Health’s 500ml Savlon Antiseptic Cream at 95p instead of its 1.89 recommended retail price. The Wound Wash is fixed at 2.25.
Asda’s chief executive Allan Leighton says: “Under the current system manufacturers seem to be free to suit themselves and single out products for price-fixing without rhyme or reason.”
The supermarket’s campaign coincided with the first Competition Bill committee session. Asda wants an amendment to the Bill which will refer the issue of resale price maintenance to the Office of Fair Trading for investigation for the first time in 25 years.
Asda has previously launched price-cutting campaigns on books, comics, magazines, perfumes, skincare and feminine hygiene products.
It was forced to reinstate prices on vitamins in 1995 after manufacturers took out injunctions.