Rivals in dirty war over new detergent

Soap opera took on a new meaning yesterday as two rival detergent manufacturers got themselves into a lather about a new Persil formulation being launched next week.

The new formulation may wash whiter but according to Procter & Gamble, maker of the rival brand Ariel, it also rots clothes. Nonsense, says Lever Brothers - a subsidiary of Unilever - the company behind Persil, and it is consulting its lawyers about legal action.

The row started when a P & G executive was quoted in a Dutch newspaper claiming that the fabric washed in the new powder showed damage after just 24 washes. Rubbish, retorted Lever Brothers, brandishing knickers washed 380 times in the detergent to prove there were no holes.

'In laboratory conditions you can prove anything,' said a Lever Brothers spokeswoman. 'What better lab is there than a consumer's own home?' She added that the product had been tested by 60,000 people, who had notched up 3 million washes, and none had shown any signs of damage to fabric.

P & G was yesterday playing down the comments by the unnamed executive, while playing up its concern for its customers, until results of outside tests it has commissioned become available next month.

A spokeswoman said that P & G has known about the new technology - which involves a catalyst christened Accelerator - for years. 'They haven't mastered it like we have,' said Lever Brothers. 'They'd love to be able to match it and they haven't'

Much is at stake. The washing powder market in Britain is worth almost pounds 800m, and pounds 6bn across Europe, and P & G and Lever Brothers are in cut-throat competition for their share. Persil is the market leader in ordinary, 'big box' powders and liquids but Ariel has the dominant share in concentrated powders - and that is the market which is growing most quickly.

New formula Persil is intended to steal a bigger concentrate share - and Unilever is throwing serious money behind it. The promotional campaign, starting in mid-May, will cost pounds 25m in Britain and pounds 200m across Europe.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor