The climbdown staved off threats of legal action by Nike, which had planned to go to the High Court yesterday to seek an injunction banning sale of the shirts. Sainsbury's agreed to remove the stock "to protect our customers' interests". Though it did not admit that the shirts are counterfeit, it said evidence provided by Nike raised questions about their "authenticity".
The issue is part of an on-going battle between branded goods companies and supermarkets which are securing sup-plies via the "grey market".
Jim Tucker, general manager of Nike (UK), said: "The fact that part of an organisation as large as Sainsbury can be caught out by the counterfeiting cartels just goes to show how heavily infected with fake goods the markets are."
Lawyers from the two sides are now meeting to decide whether or not the garments are genuine. Nike said it reserved its right to continue with the High Court injunction if it is not satisfied that Sainsbury's has complied with its demands.
Nike said the polo shirts were part of a consignment of about 25,000 fakes which arrived in Britain from the Philippines last month. It then tracked the shipment as it reached the shops. Savacentre continues to stock Nike items, including socks, even though the American giant refuses to supply them direct to the chain.