Littlewoods steps into the perfume price war

THE DISCOUNT 'perfume war' intensified yesterday when Littlewoods announced it was cutting the price of branded fragrances in its 120 shops.

It will sell the world's top 10 best-selling perfumes and aftershaves, including Chanel No 5 and Miss Dior, at up to 25 per cent below the recommended retail price.

The move is the latest in a dispute between retailers and the fragrance houses, which argue that cut-price perfume dispels the illusions surrounding their products.

Superdrug lodged a complaint with British and European Commission competition authorities earlier this year after several leading perfume companies refused to supply the pharmacy chain.

Earlier this month, Sir Leon Brittan, the European Commissioner in charge of competition policy, indicated that the Office of Fair Trading was free to act against perfume houses. It is expected to rule soon.

Superdrug has been buying its perfume on the 'grey market' from authorised distributors.

Littlewoods, based in Liverpool, said it was doing likewise because manufacturers refused to co-operate. Harry Thomas, a spokesman, said: 'The perfume houses are desperately trying to retain an air of exclusivity for their products and an artificially high price is part of that.'

He said that by buying cheaper, savings could be passed on to customers. 'They are entitled to have access to these best-selling perfumes at affordable prices.'